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Sophia and Sustainability


~~ Bernice H. Hill

A. Introduction

Today we face a major challenge: our relationship to the earth. It requires a basic evolution of our consciousness. Pollution and global warming are occurring at a much faster rate than the scientists had predicted. We, as a species, have ignored the earth, treated it as our convenience store and now depletion and spoilage are evident.

There will be many ways in which sustainability of the earth will be considered. There is the practical: China is reported to be investing $165 billion to reduce pollution. A well-known scientist has proposed firing rockets to release sulfur into the atmosphere to slow the warming. There are also efforts by the religious community, as exemplified by the recent formation of "Creation Care" committees for prayer and social action.

A Jungian perspective, however, will look for the underlying issues; and such a view would be long term and more subtle in approach. Jungians would consider the archetypes, the worldviews, and the processes in the natural psyche that apply to our attitudes about the earth and our growing problems. A Jungian approach would be to search for a principle of psychological and spiritual transcendence, aware that we now need a higher level of integration, aware that it is now time to become "citizens of the world".

Archetypes, of course, are those primordial, universal energy patterns that form our behaviors, attitudes, and values, both individual and collective. They carry the full range of possibilities, positive and negative, for that theme. They are found in our myths, symbols, dreams, visions, and cultural stories. A prime example is Joseph Campbell's exploration in "The Hero with the Thousand Faces".

In considering our relationship to the earth, the archetype of Sophia rises to prominence. Jung has written that Sophia is the archetype of greatest universality. She is found throughout all cultures and all times. She carries great wisdom and an all-embracing erotic vision of life, closely tied to the earth. She is not just an abstract principle, but a path (encoded in her fundamental processes) moving us towards a goal. If we have a deeper understanding of Sophia's principles, we will see she requires us (on many levels) to look at the quality of our living experience.

Sophia in her early form:

The earliest forms of Sophia emphasized her power and influence on earth and in the human psyche. In the ancient text of "Hypostasis of the Arc