Shekina and Sophia

Shekina is the presence or manifestation of God which has descended to dwell among humanity. The term does not appear in the Bible. It is of a feminine gender in Hebrew grammar. Some believe that this is the name of a female counterpart of God. Others reject this idea.

If not in the Bible, the Arabic form of the word Sakīnah is mentioned in the Quran in the narrative of Saul and the Ark of the Covenant. It is derived from the root “sakana” which means “dwell”.

Even though there are different opinions, the Cabalists often associate female divine aspect of Malkuth with Shekina, who they say is Queen of Malkuth. She is also the female manifestation of divinity in the man. Shekina is called “Divine presence” and “God’s Bride”.

To the Zohar, Shekina is the “Path of the Tree of Life” and “God’s Angel”. Shekina is also thought to be intermediary between God and the world “Paraphrase of God”.

One of Shekina’s functions is to watch marriages and bless them with her presence. The cabalist Isaak Luria preformed a special ritual to represent the marriage of God and Israel which consisted of two parts: ritual for Rahel and ritual for Leah. Rahel and Leah were two Jocob’s women who represented two aspects of Shekina: flight from God and return to God.

Sometimes Shekina has been linked to Holy Ghost, Epinoia and Sophia of the old Gnostics.

Sophia is certainly different than Shekina, but what they share is the feminine divine energy and the importance to humanity and our spiritual development.

According to Valentin, all of the 30 eons forgot that they had been created by God, but later they observed that something was wrong with their existence, so they decided to search for their origins through joint mediations and contemplations. They all received gnosis about their Father and thereby also bliss and peace. The only exception was Sophia, the last Valentine eon.

The youngest eon, Sophia, wished to find her origin as well, but she contemplated alone, separately from the rest of eons, which resulted in her separation from her brothers and sisters. Consequently, Sophia herself became separated into two parts. Her higher part, the one which contemplates and meditates joined her older eons, but her lower part remained in the inferior sphere of suffering – in the material plane.

The fall of Sophia is actually the picture of human fall. Through the lower part of Sophia, the humanity lives in illusion, ignorance and suffering.

The goal of the ancient gnostics was to receive gnosis about Father and fullness (pleroma) via higher eons starting with Sophia.

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