Lux in Tenebris, 5 





Corporeal Envisioning in the Theosophy of Jacob Bo:hme

Joshua Levi Ian Gentzke



p. 104, fn. 8 theology of Jacob Bo:hme

"Bo:hme's theological narrative ... can... be parsed; his theologial system has been outlined in several monographs, e.g. ...

Stoudt, Sunrise to Eternity;

Weeks, Boehme : An Intellectual Biography; and

O'Regan, Gnostic Apocalypse."


pp. 104-5 characterizations (by various authors) of the litterary style of Jacob Bo:hme's

p. 104

"For some, such as the German Romantics, ... a counterpoint to classicism ... a part of the allure of Bo:hme.


Other ... readers ... have described the author's style ... as reliant on 'sensual imagery ... obscure analogies, and ...

p. 105

the most ... singular modes of expression; ... a mine of fascinating ideas ... . ...

Regardless of one's aesthetic assessment, ... a great deal of the visionary's uniqueness lies as much in his mode of expression as in the ideas he expresses.


In an attempt to be sensitive to form as well as to content, I focus primarily on theinterrelation of series of key terms and the function of these terms within Bo:hme's imagistic drama."

[fn. 13 "Many of Bo:hme's key terms are rooted in Paracelsianism, alchemical discourse, Hermeticism ... . But ... many ... terms and concepts are deployed and radically reinterpreted by the they are situated within his unique framework. For a good introduction ... see : Weeks [1991], 25-59."]

Weeks 1991 = Andrew Weeks : Boehme : an Intellectual Biography of the Seventeenth-Century Philosopher and Mystic. Albany : State Univ of NY Pr.


p. 106 immanence of spirit in matter, and of the divine nature in the material world

"For Bo:hme, spirit meets matter within the chiasm of world and body

{This is likewise true of all other occult systems : the aitheric body is located (during the waking, non-projected state) in the same spatial location as the material body, in order to control the material body.}

and the occasion of this event is the ever-present moment {viz., the ever-ongoing concatenated sequence of moments};

{This is likewise true of all other occult systems : the aitheric plane-of-existence must always occupy the same space as the material plane-of-existence, in order to control all events occurring in the material plane.}

the divine is a ubiquitous presence permeating permeating nature, the human body, and the whole of creation {read : "universe of continuous regeneration"}."

{The pure immortal divine planes-of-existence (astral, mental, causal) must maintain their praesences ubiquitously at the same space as the aitheric plane-of-existence, in order proprely to guide the composite aitheric plane of mortal entities.}


p. 106 the need for a New Reformation

"Bo:hme ... and his followers would be instrumental in

a new and final 'Reformation.'

{"new" in the sense that it would be utterly different from Lutheranism; "final" in the sense that it was intended to eliminate Lutheranism once-and-for-all, so that Lutheranism could never return}

Bo:hme's re-centering of hermeneutical authority on ... {current praesent-day} experience ... was meant to be enacted and to this end, it sought {to recruit} actors {as revolutionists}."

fn. 17 "Bo:hme makes multiple mentions in his epistles of a new Reformation that is imminent ... ."


p. 107 religious dissent via redorientation

"Bo:hme performs a paradigmatic turn ... alongside fellow post-Reformation religious dissenters." [p. 107, fn. 18 "For a concise introduction to the relationship between dissent and early modern mysticism, see Weeks [1993], 143-168."]

But unique to the Bo:hmean vision is the way in which he attempts to direct this reorientaion : his texts dramatically combine, fuse, and orchestrate spatial, corporeal, and visual motifs [O'Regan 2002, 27-30]; the author creates an imaginal drama" ["to stress the multi-sensorial, affective dimensions ... of the imaginal" (p. 107, fn. 20)]."

Weeks 1993 = Andrew Weeks : German Mysticism from Hildegard of Bingen to Ludwig Wittgenstein. Albany : State Univ of NY Pr.

O'Regan 2002 = Cyril O'Regan : Gnostic Apocalypse : Jacob Boehme's Haunted Narrative. Albany : State Univ of NY Pr.


pp. 107-8 the earthly [i.e., material] body as manifestation of the divine mystery

p. 107

"In Forty Questions on the Soul (Vierzig Pragen von der Seelen) Bo:hme goes so far as to maintain that the 'earthly body' (der irdsche Leib) is 'the Mysterium, in which the most hidden secret lies' ...; ... corporeality is ... a space in which 'the Deity has manifested itself in earthliness ...' ... . ...

p. 108

For him, the 'human body' ... is 'the visible world, an image and essence of all that is in that world' ... . ... And human being ... is presented as the 'image/body and essence (Bilde ... und Wesen) of the 'abyssal God' [Bo:hme : Mysterium Magnum XVII 6/2:2] ... ."


p. 109 self-knowledge of mirror-image : gazing on one's own selfhood

"This relationship presumes ... human and divine ... not separate ...; rather ... locates within ... . ... However, unlike in German Idealism, this event of knowing/becoming is rooted in a sensual rather than cognitive epistemology. ...

And this knowledge is portrayed in terms that are at once gustotory and spatial : 'Every spirit without a body is empty, and does not know itself; therefore every spirit desires a body for its food and its habitation ...' ... ."


pp. 109-10 regeneration of a secretly luminous body

p. 109

"Fortunately, regenerates can develop


a luminous body rooted in divine light beneath the veil of their dull earthly flesh.

This subtle body, existent within the material body and controlling material body, is known in occultism as the "aitheric body". It is initially witnessed as the self-luminous perispirit.}


This secret body, hidden to the 'outer person' ..., is known only through 'spirit alone' ..., for 'only the spirit that is born and

p. 110

goes out of the new man ...' (alleine der Geist, so aus dem neuen Menschen erboren wird und ausgehet ...)." (Bo:hme : Von der Menschwerdung, v 177/10.1)

{Faring forth out of the material body, by the aitheric body, is known as "subtle projection"; and high-velocity travel by it abroad is known as "subtle transvection".}


{Development of this self-luminous body and its projection with transvection are the distinguishing-and-defining characteristics of strigilia ('witchcraft'), according to all the Catholic tractates concerning witchcraft.}


p. 110 spiritual regeneration of the bodily organs

"human beings ... Their regenerated organs -- the eyes of the spirit, the imagination, and the regenerate flesh --

{To witness the aitheric counterparts of material-body organs, is especially a feature of Taoist occult spiritual practice.}

open simultaneously upon the "inner-space" of the divine worlds

{The practitioner, while in the appropriate trance-state, perceive, and even entre, portals into various divine worlds.}

and the "exterior-space" of a newly inspirited world."

{The practitioner, while in the waking-state in space of the material world, may encountre, in its space, praeternatural spirit-entities of various sorts.}


p. 111 the body's becoming a temple

"The regenerated ... body is, Bo:hme insists, ... the sacred space wherein human being and Divine encounter each other; it is the 'Tabernacle of God' ... . In the regenerate state, ... it is the inner architecture of the body, ... body -- ... our body -- 'will be our temple' ...,

the 'New Jerusalem, of which he Prophet Ezekiel {\nabiy> Yh.ezqe>l\} writes' ... ." 

[fn. 43 "On the 'eternal Jerusalem' as 'the body or corpus {\somat-\} of the divine', see : O'Regan [2002], 77."]


pp. 111-2 the regenerate's understanding of the divine world : even such that the divine world hath self-knowledge through sensing via the regenerate mortal

p. 111

" the regenerate is able to see with ... 'the eyes of the soul-image/body' (der Seelen-Bildniss Augen). And this 'spiritual seeing' (geistichen Sehen) ... allows for an understanding of ... the 'Angelic World' (Englische Welt) ... ." (Bo:hme : Von der Menschwerdung, v 159/7:3)

p. 112

"As humans gain divine knowledge, God is afforded self-knowledge through the senses of the inspired human being."


pp. 112-3 Boh:mean goddess \Mageia\ {proprely, personification of the Magian religion praevalent in Iran prior to the advent of Zarathustra} as aequivalent to Platonic \khora\ [, this latter meaning (Strong's 5561) 'empty expanse']

p. 112

"Bo:hme seems to present Magia ... personified ... mythologically as feminine, bearing ... resemblance to Plato's ... [chora]. [fn. 52 "In the Timaeus [45/52a], ... a third type of phenomena ontologically situated between insubstantial being and creation."] She is a 'matrix without substantiality' ..., who mediates between the worlds of insubstantial spirit and materiality by paradoxically 'revealing herself in substance' (offenbaret sich aber im Wesen [Bo:hme : Von sechs mystischer Puncten, v 93/5:4]). Though she is 'a spirit' (Geist), Magia embodies herself through 'substance'

p. 113

(Wesen), which in turn serves as 'her body' (ihr Leib [v. 93/5:5]). ... Magia is ... 'the Mother of Eternity' (die Mutter Ewigkeit [v 93/5.1]) ...; as such 'she is self-creating' ... . As ... such ... entity, ... maintains Magia ... of erotic, bodily being. ... Magia can only be 'understood in desire' ..., because strong desire ... is her essence or 'ground' ... . It is desire, 'rough and arid like a hunger' ... which 'drives the abyss into the ground and the nothing into a something' ... .  ... 'Magia ... makes ... divine essence/substance, and ... it is she who makes divine flesh." [fn. 60 "Kurtze Erla:rung von sechs mystischen Puncten, VII 94/5.12-13 : 'Magia ... machet ... Go:ttlich Wesen, und ... Sie ists, die Go:ttlich Fleisch machet'."]


pp. 114-6 metaphysics of Jacob Bo:hme's

p. 114

"The pre-ontological emptiness, the Ungrund ['unground' : fn. 62 "to "unsay" the ... physicalist ... ontology. See : Sells [1994]."] -- described as a 'mirror' (Spiegel) [Bo:hme : Von sechs theosophischen Puncten, VI 4/1.7] ... -- enters simultaneously into sensual self-knowledge and substantial being, driven from within by a raging, stinging desire and directed by a boundless will that 'comprehends ...' ... . In this act of self-comprehension, the Ungrund passes 'out of ungroundedness into a ground' ... . ...

p. 115

Bo:hme explains : 'every desire is magnetic, though in the Ungrund there is nothing ...; so desire begets itself ... .'

"a likeness called Sophia flowed out of Pistis, with the wish that something should come into being ... [OOW -- GB, p. 416]. ...


The abyssal eye (Auge) ... is thus 'impregnated' (schwa:ngert) by its own desire for what it sees ... [Bo:hme : Vierzig Fragen, IV 12/1.22]. ...

The shadow appeared in the abyss ... . The shadow ... was jealous, and ... became self-impregnated ... [OOW -- GB, p. 417]. ...


Bo:hme's theogonic drama implies ... the 'Eternal Imagination' (ewigen Imagination) ... presented as both a faculty and a horizon or realm. ...

His thought was made complete ... and it appeared as a spirit moving to and fro ... .  ... Afterwards the ruler thought ... . [OOW -- GB, p. 418] ...


Imagination is also the medium through which the triunity ... shifts and transforms. ...

These are the three sons of their father. [OOW -- GB, p. 419] ...

p. 116

[Having lapsed from grace,] so must human beings recreate themselves in order to regain ... .

And heaven and earth were disrupted by the troublemaker, who was beneath them all. [OOW -- GB, p. 419] ...


Prior ..., the divine image ... as the primordial, androgynous Adam ... .  

Out of this ... Eros appeared, being androgynous. [OOW -- GB, p. 424]


... Bo:hme maintains that the seeking soul must enter the divine alchemical furnace, ... the eternal fire ... [Bo:hme : Von sechs theosophischen Puncten, VI 19/1.10]. ...

His masculine nature is Himeros, because he is fire from the light. [OOW -- GB, p. 424] {Lake-daimon's son Himeros (DCM, q.v.) committed incest unwittingly (GM @125.c).}

Sells 1994 = Michael Sells : Mystical Languages of Unsaying. Univ of Chicago Pr.

OOW = On the Origin of the World.

GB = Barnstone & Meyer : Gnostic Bible. Shambhala, Boston, 2003.


p. 115, fn. 73 collective (co-operative among persons) imagination

"by way of refusing fully to privatize the imagination, Bo:hme prefigures ... such as Cornelius Castoriades who theorized the collective dimensions of the imaginations. For example, see Castoriades [2007] ... ."

Castoriades 2007 = Cornelius Castoriades : "Imaginary and Imagination at the Crossroads". In :- Helen Arnold (translatrix) : Figures of the Thinkable. Stanford Univ Pr. pp. 71-90.


p. 116 achievement of the "power-body"

"Having been de-formed through the fall, humanity must be re-imaged, imaginally restored by being reborn within a "power-body" (Kraftleib). [Bo:hme : Viertzig Fragen, IV 76/7:17]"


p. 117 access to divinity through faith in goddess Mageia

"In the new state of embodiment, ... they have direct access to divinity through their regenerated senses. ... Authentic piety, the theosopher argues, ... necessitates experiential, sensual knowledge of the divine mysteries. It is the essential capability of the magical imagination, here figured as Magia, ... which holds the salvific power of transformation."


pp. 118, 120 the philosophical sphaire & metaphors there-concerning

p. 118

"According to Bo:hme's biographer and sometime student, Abraham von Franckenberg (1592-1652), the Philosophical Sphere was elaborated by Bo:hme, both verbally and graphically, during ... Bo:hme's dialogues with


the mystically-inclined ... Dr. Balthasar Walter (1558-1630).

[fn. 87 "On Balthasar Walter ..., see Penman [2008] ... .]


In print, however, ...

p. 120

the graphical dimensions appeared originally in a 1632 edition ... .  ... this ... philosophical sphere, Bo:hme refers to it as 'the eye of eternity' (Auge der Ewigkeit) ..., and the eye of the 'Being of all Beings' (Wesen aller Wesen).  ... this symbol expresses Bo:hme's ... two eternal worlds (ewig Principia), the 'Dark-World' (Finstern Welt) and the 'Light-World' (Licht-Welt) ... . These primary worlds express themselves through the third principle ... :


the nexus at which they overlap and in which spirit manifests through essence, figured here as a heart.

{"the Confucians even held that man 'should stall a heart for Heaven and earth', because man is the heart of heaven and earth. Therefore, without man, heaven and earth would have no vitality." ("OUM&N")}


Correspondingly, it represents Bo:hme's medial vision of human being ... . ...

{"Confucian scholars claimed that 'Man juxtaposes with Heaven and Earth as a trine', i.e., there are three great things" ("OUM&N").}


Historically, the sphere links Bo:hme with a long tradition of geometrical mysticism stretching back to ... Parmenides (fifth c. B.C.)."

Penman 2008 = Leigh T. I. Penman : "Another Christian Rosencreutz? : Jacob Bo:hme's Disciple Balthasar Walter (1558-c. 1630)". In :- Tore Ahlba:ck (ed.) : Western Esotericism. Tu:rku: (in Finnland) : Donner Institute. pp. 154-172.

"OUM&N" = "On the Unity of Man and Nature - A Survey of an Important Traditional Chinese Way of Thinking". 


pp. 121-3 visualization advocated by Bo:hme

p. 121

"Bo:hme instructs his readers to 'take the spirit who is born in fire' (nim den Geist, der im Feuer erboren wird) and 'go with him ... into the seeking ...


to the other half of the eye,

{The two "halves" of this 3rd Eye (pineal gland) may be understood as the two dal ('petals') of the water-lily guise of Ajn~a Cakra ('command wheel').}


into the other Principium', i.e. into the 'light-world' ... .

Desire -- here imaged as a fire-spirit -- must be coerced into desiring its own death; it is the vehicle of liberation from itself."

p. 122

"The theosopher maintains that, only those who are 'are able to wander in the divine mysteries' (der im Go:ttlichen Mysterie wandeln mag) will perceive the actual dimensions of the sphere. ... The Klugel, he assures his audience, 'may be apprehended in no other way' ... .

p. 123

It is here that the theurgical of this visionary exercise comes to the fore : spirit is drawn into ... the body of the 'in-spirited hermeneut' ... ." [fn. 107 "Faivre uses the term "inspirited hermeneuts" to refer to Bo:hme and his lineage. ... Faivre [2000], 137."]

Faivre 2000 = Antoine Faivre : Theosophy, Imagination, Tradition. Albany : State Univ of NY Pr.


p. 125 mysterion (sacramentum) for ingestation as eucharist

"As Bo:hme reveals to his reader : 'my dear sir and friend ... your own consciousness (Gemu:the) is our Mysterium.'" (IV 53/1.229)

"This ... accords with Bo:hme's contention that 'faith' (Glauben) is 'the eating of ... essence, the introducing of ... essence by the imagination into the fire of one's soul' ..., ... to 'put on ... not as a garment, but as a body. ... ." (Von der Menschwerdung v 88/11.8)



Peter J. Forshaw (ed.) : Lux in Tenebris : the Visual and the Symbolic in Western Esotericism. ARIES BOOK SERIES : TEXTS & STUDIES IN WESTERN ESOTERICISM, Vol. 23. Brill, Leiden, 2017.