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  • Writer's pictureMichael Martin

Lady Day = Sophia Day

March 25th, as many people are no doubt aware, is the Feast of the Annunciation, known in much of the Anglosphere as Lady Day. It’s an important feast in the Christian year, marking, as it does, one of the quarters along with St. John’s Day, Michaelmas, and Christmas. The feast is so important that from early on in Christian history (6th century or thereabouts) the calendar year changed at Lady Day (and not on New Year’s Day) since the Annunciation recalibrated both history and time itself. It was sort of a Cosmic Reset Button, when salvation had at last come to the household of mankind. In the Eastern churches, if the Annunciation falls during the Holy Week its observation is not transferred (as it is in most Western churches), even if it falls on Good Friday or Easter. John Donne, a great lover of paradox, wrote of this great paradox in one of his finest poems, “Upon the Annunciation and Passion Falling upon One Day”:

All this, and all between, this day hath shown, Th' abridgement of Christ's story, which makes one— As in plain maps, the furthest west is east— Of th’ angels Ave, and Consummatum est. How well the Church, God’s Court of Faculties, Deals, in sometimes, and seldom joining these. As by the self-fix’d Pole we never do Direct our course, but the next star thereto, Which shows where th’other is, and which we say —Because it strays not far—doth never stray, So God by His Church, nearest to him, we know, And stand firm, if we by her motion go.

As anyone familiar with this blog or my published work knows, the essence of Sophiology is, for me, centered on the recognition of the inherent unity of the natural and supernatural orders; and the metaxological center of that reality is the Virgin Mary, the incarnation of Sophia: she who makes the invisible Godhead manifest to the senses. The Annunciation is the feast celebrating this reality in harmony with the Feast of the Nativity—and it’s no accident that March 25th falls exactly nine months before Christmas. It’s a witness of nature’s marriage to the supernatural. This is spirituality. This is biology.

In the writings of Jacob Boehme, the role of the Virgin in the Incarnation is an office engaged in the regeneration of all things—nature as well as the human soul—an absolute participation in redemption. As he writes in Signatura Rerum:

God became man and made man to God, the Seed of the Woman, that is, of the Heavenly Virginity, which disappeared in Adam, and also corrupted man’s Seed in the Anger, that is, Mary’s Seed, were formed into one Person, which was Christ; and the Seed of the Woman, that is, of the Virgin of God, understand the Heavenly Essentiality, should bruise the head of the Serpent, understand, the wrath of God in the Corrupted man; the head is the might of God’s Anger; the Divine man, understand the Divine property, should change the earthly into itself & turn the earth to heaven.” [1]

And he explicitly identifies the Mother of Jesus with the Sophia of Proverbs:

Therefore we set it down here (according to our knowledge) that the pure chaste virgin (in which God was born [or generated]) is the chaste virgin [that is] in the presence of God: and it is an Eternal virgin; before ever Heaven and Earth was created, it was a virgin, and without blemish; and that pure chaste virgin of God put itself into Mary, in her Incarnation, and her new Man, was in the holy Element of God; and therefore she was blessed among all Women, and the Lord was with her, as the Angel said.” [2]

This sensibility is found throughout the sophiological literature—poetry as well as prose, science as well as mysticism—and sweetly phrased in these lines from William Everson’s (aka Brother Antoninus) “Canticle to the Great Mother of God”:

Clearly you are to us as God, who bring God to us.

Not otherwise than of those arms does grace emerge, blessing our birth-blank brow.

Wombed of earth’s wildness, flank darked and void, we have been healed in light,

Traced to the sweet mutation of those hands, a touch closing the anguish-actual stripe,

Whip-flashed the sin, lip-festered on our soul.

So much of our culture and times distances us from the Real that shimmers beneath above and between All Things, as infinity is found at both ends of a number line and between every number, every fraction. Our task, most especially now under the threat of an absolute technocracy, is to participate in the regenerative actuality of Christ and Sophia. This is our Annunciation, our affirmation, our entrance into the Mysterion of the Real.

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. Also check out the latest volume of Jesus the Imagination: The Garden.

1. Jacob Behmen (Jacob Boehme), Signatura Rerum: Or the Signature of all Things…translated by J. Ellistone (London, 1651), 11.11.

2. Jacob Behmen [Jacob Boehme], The Third Booke of the Author, being The High and Deepe Searching out of The Threefold Life of Man through [or according to] the Three Principles, translated by John Sparrow (London, 1650), 22.31.

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