On the Magical Name Sophia-Dione 23
For she is a breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her. For she is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness.
Wisdom of Solomon 7:25-26
“Sophia” denotes “God’s wisdom” and is a central term in Hellenistic philosophy and religion, Platonism, Gnosticism, Orthodox Christianity, and esoteric/magical Christianity, and Hermeticism/philosophical alchemy. Alchemists and medieval Gnostics generally used the Latin term Sapientia. The Heliopollitan equivalent was Sia, the knowledge and wisdom of Amun-Re, the transcendental divine principle of light, cohesion, and Being. Wisdom as a feminine aspect of Godhead (or more accurately, path to Godhead) also exists in Hinduism (as Vidya) and is the feminine aspect of enlightened mind in Buddhism (as Prajna/Panna).
The term Sophia was associated with the term Logos in Hellenistic philosophy, coopted by Jewish and early Christian philosophers, beginning with Philo (20 BCE-50 CE). The Logos (divine word) is the manifestation of the numinous first cause as the divine plan. This appears in the Wisdom of Solomon (quoted above), which is an apocryphal book dated to the turn of the first millennium CE and believed to have been written by a Hellenized Jew. The idea it conveys in the passage above is reiterated in medieval esotericism and philosophical alchemy (via Jacob Boehme [1575-1624], Frater Ulmannus [15th century],and others ) that Sophia is the “mirror” of the divine sphere. That is, she is the idealized creation that is the pure reflection of the divine. Hermetically speaking, she is the “below” that ideally is “as above” and whose aspiration is to be “as above.” She is equated with the moon and the Bythos (the “depth” of gnosis), such that Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) equated her with the goddess Diana and taboo knowledge of the dark goddess in an essay about the myth of Artemis/Diana and Actaeon in which the latter is turned into a stag, hunted, and killed because he caught sight of the goddess while she was bathing (ie, naked).
In Greco-Roman mythology, Sophia is a minor character; however she is said to be associated with Athena/Minerva/Metis, who was parthenogenically born from Zeus/Jupiter. In this guise, she initially represented wisdom in warcraft and, later ethics and still later, philosophical and mystical constructs regarding the nature of deity. Her feast day (as Roman Sapientia) is December 16 (the day preceding Saturnalia).
In The Gnostics and Their Remains, Charles W. King equates the Gnostic Sophia with Venus Anadyomene (Venus Rising from the Sea), which appears on ancient magical gem stones as a naked damsel. The iconographic image refers to the birth of Venus/Aphrodite from the froth of the genitals of Ouranos (The Heavens) that were cut off and cast into the primordial sea by Kronos/Saturn (“Kronos” suggests time and timelessness. Saturn means “Sower”). Thus Venus represents the mediation point (the birth of love and beauty) that occurs when heaven and earth are separated. Perhaps for this reason Beauty, Truth, and “The Good” are equated by the Platonists and Neoplatonists and are treated in a way similar to the Asian idea of Dharma or Tao.
In Kabala (Jewish Qabala, virtually extinct esoteric Christian Cabala, and ceremonial magical Kabala [some use the spellings interchangeably and some draw distinctions]), Sophia is associated with the sephira Chokmah (“Wisdom”) and is the second emanation in the Kabalist Tree of Life. Chokmah is associated with the power of intuitive insight. It is the point in the process of emanation in which creative thought as the divine word (Logos) emerges from the numinous void (Ain Soph). This concept was illustrated by the medieval Hermetic mystic and physician Robert Fludd (1574-1637) in Philosophia Sacra in which Chokmah/Sapientia is depicted as the first, burst-like potentiating emanation from the First Cause.
In the Sepher Yetzirah, Chokmah is associated with the element of Air and the mother letter Alef, which mediates between the celestial realm (Shin) and the earth/waters (Mem). The idea of mediation between the heavenly and earthly plane is carried over into Gnosticism, medieval philosophical alchemy, and esoteric and Orthodox Christianity.
In regards to the planes of being, Chokmah is associated with the fixed stars (constellations), which rule destiny. Thus, Chokmah—or Sophia (as expressed in Gnosticism and Hermetic alchemy)—is that which guides one across the archonic spheres to redemption and enlightenment. Sophia is, thus, the Lady of the Spheres (the Hindu equivalent: Bhuvanesvari whose mystical syllable is hrim, which shatters the world illusion [Maya].)
In Gnosticism, particularly that developed by Valentinus (100-160), Sophia falls from grace, accidentally gives birth to the demiurge, and then spends her time helping souls overcome the oppression of the demiurge and the archonic rulerships to be reunited with the divine source of being. She is the consort/syzygy of the cosmic Christ, and thus is equated with the Virgin Mary and also Mary Magdalene in various Gnostic texts. Allegorically speaking, this can be equated with the descent and ascent of kundalini shakti (the fall to animal nature and the ascent through and purgation of the elemental spheres of becoming toward realization of one’s true, essential nature, called Bhairavamukha, “the face of Shiva” in the text the Spanda Karikas of Kashmir Shaivism.)
According to Boehme, Sophia and Satan are the opposing forces symbolized by the serpents of the caduceus of Mercury. They must be united. In the alchemical text the Aurora Consurgens (15th century), attributed to “Pseudo-Aquinas,” Sophia is equated with Aurora (enlightenment or the agency of enlightenment). She is a dual force, presented as being solar (red in color, ascending and illuminating) and lunar (black in color, descending and darkening). She is the potentiating factor of the mercurial waters (ie, the “secret fire” or in the Eastern sense, kundalini).
In Orthodox and Gnostic and esoteric Christianity (ie, Rosicrucian and later Hermetic ceremonial magic such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn), Sophia is iconographically depicted as a winged, crowned woman, with red hair, wearing a red robe who sits upon a throne supported by 7 rays of power. The rays represent her dominion over the seven planetary powers or archons that enslave the human soul and spirit in materiality (in relation to Gnostic ideology). She usually holds a cross scepter and rolled scroll. She is surrounded by 24 lights because in works such as Pistis Sophia (in accordance with Valentinian Gnosticism), she and her heavenly twin (the cosmic Christ) are the last 2 of 24 syzygies that are emanations of the divine Monad.
In some medieval esoteric images, she is depicted as a celestial damsel who is reached through ascension of the ladder of the spheres (the archonic planets or 7 philosophical metals). In effect, she is the Lady Who Shines White Light at the top of the Stairway to Heaven.
Dione means “goddess” and etymologically is the feminine equivalent of Zeus (Dyaus, Deus, “celestial,” “of light”). She may be regarded as the feminine aspect of Zeus. She does not have her own mythology but is thought to represent the Magna Mater, being equated with Gaia and Rhea. She is said to be the mother of Aphrodite through union with Zeus. A distinction is made in the iconography between Aphrodite born from the severed genitals of Ouranos, who represents idealized love, and Aphrodite born from Zeus and Dione, who represents human romantic love.
Twenty-three is the mystical gematriac code for the Hebrew words Chedvah (ChDVH [joy]) and Chayah (ChiH [life/vitality]). In his article Virtual Mirrors in Solid Time The Prophetic Portals of Austin Osman Spare, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge suggests that the term “chaos,” often discussed by Spare, had special cryptic significance in that Ch referred to ChDVH (joy). Combined with Spare’s initials AOS, the word “chaos” is formed. This word, according to P-Orridge represents Spare and the gist of his magic, which he termed “self-love” and was equated with the egoless and ecstatic state in the divine ground. Spare called the divine ground “Kia” (of note, the Chayah is pronounced like Khaw-yaw). He referred to the body and vehicle of experience as “Zos.” Therefore, the gematriac number 23 is significant to persons ascribing to concepts or methods associated with Zos Kia Cultus and its derivative Chaos Magic Theory.