Anima Mundi: The quickening

How is it that little Emma’s death, how is it that the release of her bright spirit, opened a gate? I don’t know, but do I sense that it did. Emma died, so that we may live. Her innocent creaturely death, as with the death of other innocent creatures — and we are all, underneath, in our origins, innocent — like the myth of the sacrifice of the god, fuels resurrection, renewal. Energy is not lost, but transformed.

As I write this, the annual, five day long Southern Indiana Sundance begins an hour south of Bloomington, Indiana, where I live. A holy time for Native Americans who, down through the centuries, despite massive efforts on the part of white settlers to demystify and commodify the natural world, have understood that the Great Spirit guides and infuses all of life, that the soul of the Earth holds all creatures in her deeply feminine embrace.

The idea that this planet has a soul, anima mundi, the notion that the Earth herself is a living, breathing, spiritual intelligence, what we now call the Gaia principle, is very ancient. As is the hermetic notion that the microcosm mirrors the macrocosm, “as above so below,” “as within, so without.” Nothing is separate. Everything is connected.

Within this perspective, if what we call the Arab Spring, now spreading to southern Europe and beyond, is any indication, then the world soul, and humanity’s intimate communion with her, is now quickening.

I excerpt here the first and last paragraphs of a talk given in 2007. Notice how the author, a Sufi, is looking forward to what is happening now, hoping, longing, but not knowing whether the long suppressed world soul really would reawaken; and indeed it did, it is.

The world soul is now awake, aroused, and celebrating, her earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and storms and street parades and internet explosions of truth-telling all spinning a dervish dance, Earth shaking her booty, in rhythm with the cosmos. Thanks to

Invoking The World Soul

Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

Excerpts from transcription of a talk given in
Seattle, Washington, May 18 – 2007

What I want to talk about this evening is the anima mundi — the soul of the world. And actually I don’t want to just talk about the anima mundi, I want to see if we can invoke Her presence — this living spirit of creation. This is really divine consciousness within matter. I will begin by just giving a little history of the anima mundi in our Western culture. In the East, it is really very evident, as in Taoism, which is really a constant relationship to that living spirit in nature, in which one aligns one’s whole life, one’s whole way of being, one’s whole understanding of life, in relationship to this living spirit. The Tao — it’s the same — it is the divine within creation. In the West we have a kind of more conceptual understanding of it and this is really the Western tradition of what we call now the Gaia Principle — the understanding that the Earth is a living being. And all I would add at the beginning in order to understand this, in order to relate to this, is that it is a living spiritual being. And just as we are a physical body with a soul, so is the world a physical body with a soul, and that soul is its spiritual essence. And as far as I can understand, unless you make a relationship to the soul of creation, to the anima mundi, you are just scratching the surface of life. Just as if somebody relates to you purely physically they are just scratching your surface, they are not relating to you as a living breathing spiritual being — as a soul incarnate in this world.


So you have to show up in your life and you have to show up in the life of the world. And the life of the world is not a shopping mall and the life of the world is not a problem to be solved by economists or scientists because it’s not made like that. It is not a computer-generated model. Just as you’re not a computer-generated model. You’re not a statistic. It is always this relationship of microcosm to macrocosm. That spark that goes from your consciousness — your heart to the heart of the world. It is so simple, it is so primary, just as everything in spiritual life is primary. Just as what happens with a human being, it is called awakening, tauba, the turning of the heart — that moment in the human incarnation when you are given this spark. It’s an act of grace. And suddenly your whole life changes. A spark is put into you. It is very beautiful how it is done. It comes from the Higher Self. At a particular moment in your incarnation, the Higher Self is allowed to give you a certain energy. And after that spark — that scintilla — that spark, that infusion of divine energy — you can call it grace, you are no longer the same person. Something in you is woken up. There is this light, there is this hope, there is this sunshine in the eyes — it is incredibly beautiful — most precious moment. I know when it happened to me when I was 16, and suddenly the whole world was there. Like it had always been and I had never seen it. Full of light, full of beauty. And all you have to do is to be present and to say yes. To be present in your life and in the life of the world. The life of the world as it belongs to the soul of the world. And She is alive. She is here now. Because we have forgotten about Her for so long. And She is waiting to wake up.

Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee is a Sufi teacher and author of a number of books, including Working with Oneness.




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