Jakob Böhme and the three principles of the divine

 Theosophia revelata, das ist, Alle göttliche Schriften, Jakob Böhme, 1730 US public domain via wikimedia
Theosophia revelata, das ist, Alle göttliche Schriften, Jakob Böhme, 1730 US public domain via wikimedia

In Fearful Symmetry,  (1947) Northrop Frye discusses Böhme’s work in relationship to William Blake. This is a great book, highly recommended for all those interested in the imagination. According to Frye, Böhme’s work concerns itself with three stages or ‘principles.’ Frye succinctly describes these principles:

“The first ‘principle’ is God conceived as wrath or fire, who torments himself inwardly until he splits open and becomes the second principle,” (p. 157)

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Jakob Bohme and the Split within God

Theosophia revelata, Jokob Böhme, 1730- US public domain via wikimedia
Theosophia revelata, Jokob Böhme, 1730- US public domain via wikimedia

Böhme’s cosmology includes a division into the light and a dark aspects of the God image. For Böhme’s the God-image is split from within. The split is between the Holy Ghost as the light aspect and the Father as the dark.

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Jakob Böhme & the dynamic unity of light and dark

Jacob Boehme, ‘Vierzig Fragen von der Seele’ Forty Questions Concerning the Soul -1620. US Public Domain
Jacob Boehme, ‘Vierzig Fragen von der Seele’ Forty Questions Concerning the Soul -1620. US Public Domain

Jakob Böhme (1575 – 1624) was a German mystic.  He wrote several mystical treatises which influenced G.W.F. Hegel, Carl Jung, and other German thinkers. Carl Jung speaks of Böhme’s work. He says:

“A historical example of the [division into light and dark] is Jakob Böhme’s mandala, in his treatise XL Questions concerning the Soule… It is an image of God and is designated as such.” (CW 91, para. 717)

 

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God, please grant us deliverance from our psychic states

Hans Holbein the Younger (1498–1543), Danse Macabre. XXI. The Preacher, US Public Domain, Die imposante Galerie
Hans Holbein the Younger (1498–1543), Danse Macabre. XXI. The Preacher, US Public Domain, Die imposante Galerie

Carl Jung says, “the unity of consciousness or of the so-called personality is not a reality.” In other words, we are split within.  At the most basic level this is a split between the conscious and the unconscious dimensions of the psyche. This basic split is the “fallen state,” creating all sorts of “impulses, inhibitions, and affects.”

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Archetype of Revelation

Albrecht Dürer, The Revelation of St John: 9. St John Devours the Book- 1497-1498
Albrecht Dürer, The Revelation of St John: 9. St John Devours the Book- 1497-1498. US public domain, wikimedia

Carl Jung understood that, in archetypal terms, the God image is central in the process of Self-realization.

In the Western Biblical tradition, the Bible is an account of Western man in his relationship with the God. On an archetypal level, the Bible may also serve as an account of Western man in his relation to Self-realization. The over-arching archetypal narrative speaks to a split with God, and thus a split in the Self.

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