Monday, May 14, 2012

The Mother(s): Isis-Mary-Sophia

Rudolf Steiner:

Therefore in the true sense of spiritual science we do not speak only of one Mother but of the Mothers, realizing that what we have today as the physical Mother is the last development of the soul-spiritual figure out of the spiritual realm. Crux Ansata There are in fact images of Isis representing not one Mother but Mothers, three Mothers. In front we have a figure, Isis with the Horus child at her breast, resembling the oldest representations of the Madonna. But behind this figure in certain Egyptian representations we have another figure, an Isis, bearing on her head the two familiar cow horns and the wings of the hawk, offering the “crux ansata” (see Figure) to the child. We see that what is physical, human, in the foremost figure is here more spiritualized. Behind there is yet a third figure, bearing a lion's head and representing the third stage of the human soul. This is how these three Isis figures appear, one behind the other. It is an actual fact that our human soul bears in it three natures: a will nature, found in the inmost depths of the being; a feeling nature; and a wisdom nature. These are the three soul Mothers; we meet them in the three figures of the Egyptian Isis.
That behind the physical Mother we have the superphysical Mother, the spiritual Mother, the Isis of spiritual antiquity, with the hawk's wings, the cowhorns with the globe of the world between them on the head of Isis — this is profound symbolism. Those who understand something of the ancient so-called theory of numbers have always said — and this corresponds with a deep truth — that the sacred number three represents the divine masculine in the cosmos. This sacred number three is pictorially expressed by the globe of the world and two cowhorns, which are, if you like, a kind of image of the Madonna's crescent, but actually represents the fruitful working of the forces of nature.
The globe represents the creative activity of the cosmos. I should have to speak for hours were I to give a picture of the masculine element in the world. Thus behind the physical Isis stands her representative the superphysical Isis, who is not impregnated by one of her own kind but by the divine masculine living and weaving throughout the world. The process of fructification is still portrayed as being akin to the process of cognition. The consciousness that the process of cognition is a kind of fructification was still living in ancient times. You may read in the Bible: “Adam knew his wife and she brought forth ...” What today we receive as spiritual gives birth to the spiritual in the soul; it is something that represents a last remnant of the ancient mode of fructification. What comes to expression here shows us how today we are fructified by the spirit of the world receiving this spirit into the human soul as spirit of the world in order to acquire human knowledge, human feeling, human will.
This is what is represented in Isis. She is fructified by the divine male element, so that the head is fructified; and it is not material substance that is offered the child, as in the case of the physical Isis, but the “crux ansata” which is the sign of life. Whereas here from the physical Isis physical substance of life is offered, there is offered the spirit of life in its symbol. Behind the physical Mother of life there appears the spiritual Mother of life; behind her again the primal force of all life, represented with the life force, just as the will dwells behind everything in the still spiritual, far distant past. Here we have the three Mothers, and also the way in which out of the cosmos these three Mothers impart vitalizing force to the sun. Here we have what is not an artistic expression, nevertheless a symbolic expression of a profound cosmic truth. What lasted throughout the Egyptian evolution as the Isis symbol was received in more recent times and transformed in accordance with the progress made by humanity as a result of the appearance of Christ Jesus on earth; for in Christ Jesus we have the great prototype of everything that the human soul is destined to bring forth out of itself. The human soul in its fructification out of the spirit of the world is given tangible form in the Madonna. In the Madonna we meet, as it were, with Isis reborn and in an appropriate way enhanced, transfigured.

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