The Center for Sophiological Studies

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I typically stay away from topical subjects on this blog. So much of blogging, or so it seems to me, is involved in dreadful and sensationalistic exercises in ambulance chasing and hysteria in which I’d rather not be a participant. Hopefully, I’ll avoid that in what follows.

As a biodynamic farmer, I am probably more aware than most about what’s going on in the heavens at any particular moment. We plant by the moon and the planets, so the connection of the earth to the rest of the cosmos is an awareness I’ve cultivated over the decades. And it’s a real connection.

I’ve never been interested in astrological prognostications concerning world events—elections, natural disasters, and so forth—though I did happen to take this world pandemic into consideration and wonder about its reflection in the heavens. It’s happening all over the world, so it wasn’t a matter of figuring out when a country was conceived or born (founded). The earth is one being.

The way people have learned astrology throughout history has not been to start from a set of principles or formulae, but to see what happens on earth (or with a person) and compare it to astronomical phenomena. That is, the principles and formulae arose from observation. This is what used to be called science.

Anyway, when I checked the almanac, I noticed Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto in Capricorn, the sign traditionally associated with business and commerce. Mars and Saturn according to Ptolemaic astrology are the lesser and greater malefics respectively. They’re essentially the bad hombres of the cosmos. Pluto, unknown to Ptolemy, is kind of a metaphysical disruptor, and maybe the baddest of bad hombres. All three of those dudes in the same place is comparable to what Peewee Herman found walking into the biker bar in Peewee’s Big Adventure. Jupiter is the Peewee Herman in this configuration: generous, hopeful, and just trying find his bike and make the world happy once again.

In January, when the combined conoraviral and economic breakdown began, Saturn and Jupiter were in a hard (in several senses) conjunction. In mid-March, Mars, which moves more quickly than the other planets here, conjoined Jupiter and right after that Pluto. Jupiter is expansive; it makes things bigger. Mars is a volatile little bugger, bringing energy to whatever situation it comes to. Its energy blew this stellium to smithereens, kind of like throwing a full can of gas into a fire.

Mars, thankfully, moved out of Capricorn a couple days ago and Saturn will leave next week. This should calm things down a little, though Jupiter and Pluto won’t be leaving anytime soon. Jupiter will conjoin Pluto in late June—which probably won’t be bad, and might actually be good for the market—while Saturn moves back into Capricorn in early July. But it won’t be anything like what we’ve already seen.

However, there’s no accounting for the behavior of politicians and opportunists. The stars incline, brothers and sisters, they do not compel.

Interestingly, a 14-year-old Indian boy, Abighya Anand, predicted what we’re going through eight months ago using Vedic astrology.

I think everything we’re going through at the moment points to our very serious case of Cosmological Estrangement Syndrome (CES). The good news is that recent events may be making at least some people reconsider their place in cosmos—or at least reconsider where their food comes from, which is a step in that direction. If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it’s that everything is connected to everything else. The internet and social media, as useful as they can be, are but subnature’s mimesis of the holistic and sophiological reality of our mutual enfoldment—and they’re not a substitute for it. In fact, as I have written in Transfiguration, they further estrange us from the Real.

Michael’s latest books are an edition of The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutzand Transfiguration: Notes toward a Radical Catholic Reimagination of Everything. He can be reached at See also The Center for Sophiological Studies' available courses.

  • Michael Martin

Modernity has a unique gift—that of generating its opposite. In the sterile wake of the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment, the Romantic philosophers and poets, especially those of Germany and England, resisted the totalizing demands of “science” and “progress” and sought to restore a vision of human flourishing mindful of mystery, of nature, and of the imagination. In the bleak aftermath of industrialization and rapacious streams of Capitalism in the late 19th century, people turned to alternative methods of inquiry in movements as diverse as the Celtic Twilight, The Theosophical Society, the Occult Renaissance, and a renewed fascination with the World of Faerie. All of these various movements hide within themselves the often unspoken admission that modernity (and postmodernity) leaves much unspoken and more unaddressed.

We live in such times, times that are always-already happening.

In the early modern period, hermetic thinkers like Paracelsus, Jacob Boehme, Robert Fludd, as well as the Metaphysical poet Henry Vaughan and his twin brother, the Anglican priest and alchemist Thomas, resisted the abstractions of Descartes and the world he was creating (creating by ignoring half of it) that directly led to the disenchanted and dismal landscape we now inhabit. In the transition from the 18th to the 19th centuries, William Blake’s poetic railing against all forms of slavery—both of physical servitude as well as of mental and imaginative enthrallment—did much the same thing. They all may have been on the losing side of history, but they were not on the wrong side.

In the late 19th and into the 20th centuries, the Irish poet William Butler Yeats straddled all of these worlds. A folklorist, hermetic magician, mystic, and politician as well as a poet, Yeats upheld the value of what might be called the Great Tradition, which encompassed not only Neoplatonism and medieval sensibilities of the microcosm and the macrocosm, but also folk traditions he found in the Irish peasantry, particularly the belief in faerie and the magical properties of stones and plants. Indeed, the desire for a society more closely connected to the visible and palpable world as well as the invisible worlds that coincide and shine through it is characteristic of those facing the abyss of modernitys false promises of progress. The Cottingly Fairies, for instance, became cause célèbre in face of the inhumanities and horrors of World War I (the 1997 film Fairy Tale: A True Story illustrates this beautifully), echoing the popularity of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan just a decade earlier. All were responses to the crowning features of alienation and confusion that is modernity: “For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand,” in Yeats’s apt phrase.

We live in such a time.

Yet, it is still a time of hope, a time of creating a new world, reimagining where we are and examining how we arrived here. Unfortunately, not everyone in the reimagining business is interested in hope so much as in control, and I am as concerned as anyone about people in whom I have no trust (politicians for the most part) exerting power in a moment of distress. Nevertheless, I find great comfort in Yeats’s short meditation “The Body of Father Christian Rosencrux,” first published in 1895 and later gathered in the collection, Ideas of Good and Evil (and which I later published in The Heavenly Country):

The followers of the Father Christian Rosencrux, says the old tradition, wrapped his imperishable body in noble raiment and laid it under the house of their order, in a tomb containing the symbols of all things in heaven and earth, and in the waters under the earth, and set about him inextinguishable magical lamps, which burnt on generation after generation, until other students of the order came upon the tomb by chance. It seems to me that the imagination has had no very different history during the last two hundred years, but has been laid in a great tomb of criticism, and had set over it inextinguishable magical lamps of wisdom and romance, and has been altogether so nobly housed and apparelled that we have forgotten that its wizard lips are closed, or but opened for the complaining of some melancholy and ghostly voice. The ancients and the Elizabethans abandoned themselves to imagination as a woman abandons herself to love, and created great beings who made the people of this world seem but shadows, and great passions which made our loves and hatreds appear but ephemeral and trivial phantasies; but now it is not the great persons, or the great passions we imagine, which absorb us, for the persons and passions in our poems are mainly reflections our mirror has caught from older poems or from the life about us, but the wise comments we make upon them, the criticism of life we wring from their fortunes. Arthur and his Court are nothing, but the many-coloured lights that play about them are as beautiful as the lights from cathedral windows; Pompilia and Guido are but little, while the ever-recurring meditations and expositions which climax in the mouth of the Pope are among the wisest of the Christian age. I cannot get it out of my mind that this age of criticism is about to pass, and an age of imagination, of emotion, of moods, of revelation, about to come in its place; for certainly belief in a supersensual world is at hand again; and when the notion that we are “phantoms of the earth and water” has gone down the wind, we will trust our own being and all it desires to invent; and when the external world is no more the standard of reality, we will learn again that the great Passions are angels of God, and that to embody them “uncurbed in their eternal glory,” even in their labour for the ending of man’s peace and prosperity, is more than to comment, however wisely, upon the tendencies of our time, or to express the socialistic, or humanitarian, or other forces of our time, or even ‘to sum up’ our time, as the phrase is; for Art is a revelation, and not a criticism, and the life of the artist is in the old saying, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the spirit.”

Neither can I get it out of my mind that this age is about to pass, and an age of imagination, of emotion, of moods, of revelation, about to come in its place.

William Butler Yeats’s poem “The Stolen Child” set to music by Mike Scott of The Waterboys

Michael’s latest books are an edition of The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutzand Transfiguration: Notes toward a Radical Catholic Reimagination of Everything. He can be reached at See also The Center for Sophiological Studies' available courses.

Stella Matutina Farm, Grass Lake, Michigan

Sophiology has deep, deep connections to various social streams in our world: in distributism and communitarianism, for example, as well is in some varieties of Christian anarchism, not to mention various strains of neopaganism. Indeed, Sophiology, as I have always conceived of it, transcends confessional boundaries, particularly in the phenomenological attention to the Things of This World which allows them to shine forth in all of their radiance. Because of this, nowhere is Sophiology so easily found than in farming.

This is not to say that the shining of Sophia can be located on the gigantic fields and feed lots of BigAg, filled as they are with GMO grains and cattle loaded with enough drugs to stock a pharmacy. What BigAg offers are not farms, but the outdoor manifestation of the factory, the dark satanic mills William Blake so rightfully condemned for the evils they inflict on human flourishing.

A farm, to be a farm, needs to be a place where humans live in accord with animal and plants—including so-called “pests” and “weeds.” This accord, as I’ve so often written before, is also cosmologically configured: the restoration of the relationship of the microcosm to the macrocosm. Without this relationship to Being, one should expect nothing else but pathology and disease, physical and psychological as well as spiritual. This kind of farm, as Rudolf Steiner, H.J. Massingham, and Masanobu Fukuoka (among many others) have asserted, can only appear as a totality and under the loving stewardship of a devoted caretaker. And it can only be an organic or biodynamic farm. Such a farm is what Dylan Thomas identified as “the first, spinning place,” evocative of Eden, in his beautiful poem, “Fern Hill.”

Our world’s over-reliance on pharmaculture, as we know all too well, is not just characteristic of BigAg, but infiltrates every aspect of our lives—often by governmental decree—a practice which further and further estranges us from the Real. We simply have lost touch with Reality. That so very few seem to panic about this may be the greatest cause for panic.

This disconnection with the Real, sadly, runs through most (probably all) of the power structures around us: the entertainment industry, education, politics, medicine, the military, the corporatacracy, and even, it pains me to say, our various ecclesial bodies. Truly, as the Book of Job inquires, “Where is wisdom to be found?”

One answer, and an easy one to enact, is in a return to the Creation as Creation, infused with the Glory of the Lord. Sophiology, certainly, can be discerned through the farm, but it is also revealed—through scripture, through vision (as in the cases of Jane Lead, John Pordage, and Vladimir Solovyov to name just three), through the arts, and, importantly, through community (“where two or three are gathered in my name”). And what is an organic farm but a community? So, let us return to how “it must have been after the birth of the simple light.” It’s really not that difficult.

Watch this documentary inspired by the work of Masanobu Fukuoka.

Michael’s latest books are an edition of The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz and Transfiguration: Notes toward a Radical Catholic Reimagination of Everything. He can be reached at See also The Center for Sophiological Studies' available courses.