In ancient times spiritual guidance was the province of women who mediated between the gods and humanity. Apollo’s temple at Delphi, which was superimposed on an earlier shrine of the Goddess Gaia, was always presided over by female oracles. The dove oracles at Dodona in northern Greece and the sibyls at Olympia, Tetrapolis, Athens, and many other sites were likewise women. Through means of snake venom or special herbs added to the fires on which the sacred cauldron burned, a priestess who had the gifts of divination and prophecy consulted the deity to answer questions and dispense wisdom to supplicants.
Access to sacred wisdom was projected onto priestesses because it was not understood that Sophia is available to all. Yet, through means which have not yet been proven to the satisfaction of the majority of the scientific community, (physicists Wolfgang Pauli, David Bohm, and Jean Emile Charon are among those who have come up with intriguing and widely accepted theories), every serious seeker has the ability to experience sacred energies directly and personally.
Sophia’s spiritual wisdom has always been experienced by small, and sometimes secret groups of seekers, spiritual guides, and mystics of every religion, including saints, gurus, yogis, and shamans. H. Corbin, author of Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn Irabi quotes one of the disciples of the great Islam Mystic: “Our shaikh Ibn Arabi had the power to meet the spirit of any Prophet or Saint departed from this world, either by making him descend to the level of this world and contemplating him in an apparitional body similar to the sensible form of his person, or by making him appear in his dreams, or by unbinding himself from his material body to rise to meet the spirit.”
Ibn Arabi’s story is of particular interest because he is an example of a scholarly male who gained access to his Mediatrix through the guidance of three women: Yasmin of Marchena and Fatima of Cordova, his two Sufi mystic teachers, and Nizam Ayn al-Shams, a beautiful young woman who became his image of the Beloved, thus inspiring him in much the same way as Beatrice inspired Dante. Because he was open and willing to learn from these women, Ibn Arabi was gifted with a meaningful vision of Sophia, the Mediatrix who guided his soul’s transformation.
Similar claims about the mystical experiences of spirit persons are made in Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism as well. St. Paul, St. John the Divine, Ste. Teresa, and Mother Julian of Norwich are examples from Christianity. Christianity’s ultimate Mediatrix, is, of course, Mary, Queen of the Universe who intercedes with Jesus on behalf of humanity. Examples of Jewish mystics who experienced Sophia’s feminine way of communicating wisdom are Rabbi Levi ben Haytha, Isaac Luria, Rabbi Abraham Berukhim, and Rabbi Joseph Karo. The Dalai Lama of Buddhism and the Hindu guru Sai Baba are current examples from Eastern religions.
If our Mediatrix is not bringing spiritual meaning to us it is because our egos will not cooperate. A fearful ego cannot think freely or creatively. The more fragile and frightened it is, the more fiercely it clings to habit and tradition, for to a death-obsessed ego, stepping beyond the safety promised by orthodoxy feels like a death sentence. Ironically, as innumerable spirit persons have shown, it is, in fact, the way to new spiritual life.
It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure. The very cave