Revised: July 2020
Soul of the World. Eliphas Levi equates the Soul of the World with the Astral Light, of which he has written in The History of Magic:
"Light, that creative agent, vibrations of which are the movement and life of all things; light, latent in universal ether (see ETHER), radiating about absorbing centres, which, being saturated thereby, project movement and life in their turn, so forming creative currents; light, astralized in stars, animalized in the animals, humanized in human beings light, which vegetates all plants, glistens in metals, produces all forms of Nature and equilibrates all by the laws of universal sympathy - this is light which exhibits the phenomena of magnetism, divined by Paracelsus, which tinctures the blood, being released from the air as it is inhaled and discharged by the hermetic bellows of the lungs."1 (See AERATION).
Anima Mundi, the Latin feminine form, contains letter-value 89. This is the value of the Hebrew word גוף, guph, meaning 'body, matter'. It is also the value of Argentum, Silver. Levi's quotation clearly points to the form or body building quality of the World Soul. On the Qabalistic Tree, the feminine Sephirah attributed the substance building function, Binah is called both AMA (the Dark, Sterile Mother) and AIMA (the same Mother fertilized by the Father, Chokmah). Substance nurtures, incorporates, maintains and directs growth. However, something within that substance formulates guidelines and patterns. This is the Intelligent Life and Light hinted by the gematria of Argentum and alluded to in Levi's quotation. Chaiah, חיה, cha-yah, the Life-Force from Chokmah, is that something. Hidden within Chaiah is a power of the second Sephirah Qabalists call כחמה, kachmah, a rearrangement of the same letters in Chokmah and holding the same numeral value 73. Kachmah is the 'power of formation'. It is a masculine power, the “creative agent” in Levi's quotation that “radiates about absorbing centers.” The "absorbing centers", "saturated" is the feminine, nurturing power of the Soul of the World (hence the feminine form, Anima). The two elements (with a third within each) together form the Light Substance, Prima Materia, the First Matter that is the primal essence of all forms whatever. Binah (now the World Soul) ensures that all fixed patterns from the Father are manifested into physical forms. Keep in mind that Kether, Chokmah, and Binah are three modes of ONE LIFE, and that powers of the other two are in any one of the three.
Binah is the sphere of Saturn on the Tree. The concentrating, limiting quality symbolized by Saturn represents the cohesive characteristic in Binah. Hindu philosophers call the Soul of the World, Maya-Shakti, and like Soul of the World, suggests both masculine and feminine powers. Shakti is defined as the sole causative masculine agent, force or energy that upholds the cosmos through vibration. It is the exact basic formative power as Kachmah of Qabalah. Maya is the feminine, cohesive substance, defined generally as illusion. All physical forms in the entire Universe are comprised of ONE LIFE disguised as infinite, varied forms and bodies. The physical forms are actual enough, not illusionary as if they were unreal. It is our interpretation of all the physical forms we experience that is the illusion. We are deluded into believing all forms are separate from the One Life of the Universe. The ultimate logical conclusion from this line of reasoning is to realize that yours and my physical bodies are actually comprised of pure Light Substance, the Soul of the World. Think on this.
Binah or Maya-Shakti works within us, as in everything, at profoundly deep levels of subconsciousness. It is the power within us that built our baby bodies from the embryo, "humanized in humans beings", and continues to do so up to our physical dissolution. The feminine power does so according to the original pattern induced from the masculine Archaeus. The Soul of the World contains the Light of Omniscience (Kether), the Formation of Omnipotence (Chokmah) and the Embodiment of Omnipresence (Binah). Concerning all this J.A. Siebmacher wrote:
"Into three the great good is divided, yet it is one, and highly esteemed by the world...It is named the water of life, the purest and most blessed water, yet not the water of the clouds, or of any common spring, but a thick, permanent, salt, and (in a certain sense) dry water, which wets not the hand, a slimy water which springs out of the fatness of the earth. Likewise, it is a double mercury and Azoth which, being supported by the vapor or exudation of the greater and lesser heavenly and the earthly globe, cannot be consumed by fire. For itself is the universal and sparkling flame of the light of nature, which has the heavenly Spirit in itself, with which it was animated at first by God, Who pervades all things, and is called by Avicenna, the Soul of the World. For as the soul lives and moves in all elementary creatures, and is the indissoluble bond of body and soul, the purest and most noble essence in which lie hid all mysteries in their inexhaustible fullness of marvelous virtue and efficacy. Moreover, they ascribe to it infinite Divine power and virtue when they say that it is the Spirit of the Lord who fills the Universe, and in the beginning moved upon the face of the waters. They also call it the spirit of truth that is hid in the world, and cannot be understood without the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, or the teaching of those who know it. It is found potentially everywhere, and in every thing, but in all its perfection and fullness only in ONE thing."2
“…and cannot be understood without the inspiration of the Holy Spirit”, wrote Siebmacher. The ‘inspiration of the Holy Spirit’ comes to us individually as Intuition. Built within the Light Substance, the World Soul, is a quality Qabalists call נשמה, Neshamah, the ‘Life Breath’. More commonly it is called the Divine Soul in mankind. On the Tree of Life Binah is the seat of Intuition. Understanding, another name for the third sphere, is realized through the function of inner hearing (meditation). That inner hearing is our intuitive self. The ‘higher levels’ with hearing the secrets of God, Nature and Creation must be granted to us by the Holy Spirit with our evolutionary unfoldment.
To achieve the level of unfoldment necessary to receive instruction from the World Soul calls for a physical instrument of finer substance; a substantive physical vehicle capable of receiving the higher vibrations from the Primal Light Substance. Since ALL substances are initially comprised of the One Light Material it is a matter of consciously refining the basic cell structure within our personal physical form. Each of the trillions of cells comprising our bodies is a conscious unit of life. As such each cell can receive, hold in memory and, once more, communicate any instruction to the next generation of cells it receives from the subconscious. They are doing so even as you are reading this. However, the subconscious cannot act upon anything unless it, in turn, receives instruction from self-consciousness in the form of suggestions. Collectively we humans continue to suffer illnesses within every level of our consciousness from spirit to bone marrow due to the quality of suggested instructions. We do this every hour of every day by our habitual lines of thought and action. Change these habits of thought and action and we can create a physical human vehicle for ourselves that will be naturally capable of receiving the higher Light vibrations.
In Alchemy and Qabalah this is referred to as the ‘gross work’. When the new habits of thought and action become habitual beyond conscious focus, our bodies will then be ready to receive and work on the more subtle vibrations. The combination is called The Great Work.
So, what is the Soul of the World that is one, yet contains spirit, soul and body? What is the Quintessence that fills universal space, yet holds fire, water, air and earth within itself? What is both masculine and feminine? What can project the idea and the seed of life yet form it simultaneously? Limitless Light...the very Astral Light Eliphas Levi and Siebmacher frequently referred to as water and אזות, Azoth, in Hebrew. The gematria of AZUTh sums to 414, that of AIN SUPh AUR. Refer to ARCHAEUS, AZOTH and MAYA-SHAKTI.
1 Hall, Manly Palmer, The Secret Teachings of All Ages. Los Angeles: Philosophical Research Society, 1977 ed., pg. 110.
2 Siebmacher, J.A., The Sophic Hydrolith. Edmonds, WA: Alchemical Press, 1987, pg. 10.