As some of you know because I never shut up about it, my spirit animal is the deep sea anglerfish. That’s a whole story in and of itself, about which I am writing a play to get all the complicated ~feels~ out of my system. But until that’s finished, this post will have to hold me over.
After meeting the anglerfish in that fateful spirit animal meditation 5 years ago, I went into full-on denial. I didn’t want it to be true that this frightening sea beast was my soul symbol. Why couldn’t I be a wolf? Or a moth? Or, I don’t know, something not scary and evil? From that meditation forward, I avoided encountering her as best I could.
But last year I found myself on the other side of the country, reeling from an indescribably damaging breakup, in a city where I knew nobody. There was nothing left to do but analyze how the hell I’d gotten here, through interrogating my shadows, patterns and deeper motives. Without falling back on finger-pointing or reductive victim-blaming, I was determined to find out how much of a role I did play in creating this toxic relationship. Nothing like a cross-country attempt at running away from oneself to bring one face-to-face with oneself, yeah?
So I did it. I faced myself. For days. For weeks. Belligerently questioning everything about “me”. And one day during this ruthlessly reflective time, I sunk into a meditation… from the anglerfish’s point of view. It was inevitable that, in my crusade to face every aspect of myself, I’d eventually face her, too. If it was true that she was my animal representative, I needed to know what that meant. Why her? Why me?
As I took on the anglerfish’s awareness, the deep, dark ocean appeared in my mind’s eye. The immense pressure of the water threatened to crush my body. I felt an isolation so cold it was scathing.
Hungry, frightened and alone, I slowly realized that I am my own provider, guide, friend, lover and confidante. I am my all.
As if to confirm this revelation, a light flickered atop my head, both beacon and warning. It was my singular source of warmth in an otherwise icy void. More than that, it was my only guide through this merciless darkness.
Suddenly, the following thought thundered through my head. It was the anglerfish, declaring her truth to those others lurking in the void:
IF YOU TRY TO EAT MY LIGHT
YOU DESERVE TO BE DEVOURED
Now there was a perspective I hadn’t considered. Maybe the anglerfish — stereotyped as deceptive and evil for using light to bait and eat other fish — was actually justified in fiercely protecting her self-generated power?
Fast forward to April, when I first encountered an apocryphal Gnostic text called the Pistis Sophia. It tells the story of Sophia (which means Wisdom), who was originally a powerful being residing in the realm of Barbelo, which is the highest realm of existence just outside of God.
However, Sophia made a grave mistake by creating something not in accordance with God’s will. As a consequence of using her creative power irresponsibly, she was flung down to “the chaos,” a torturous realm now ruled over by Yaldabaoth, the tyrannical false god of Sophia’s own accidental design. He and his Archon accomplices kept Sophia trapped there in the darkness so they could feed off her light — a light they themselves did not have, but viciously craved.
Now here was Sophia: an emanation of God, removed from her place in the heights and condemned to the underbelly of the world, all because of an unconscious choice she had made. Worse yet, her own creation had become her prison keeper. Could you imagine her grief? Her fear? Her shame?
Recognizing her mistake, Sophia desperately began pleading to God (who, in this cosmology, is technically her own Higher Self) in a series of repentances. In her 9th repentance she cries out:
“QUICKLY, O LIGHT, VINDICATE AND AVENGE ME,
AND GIVE JUDGEMENT ON ME ACCORDING TO THY GOODNESS.
NOW, THEREFORE, O LIGHT OF LIGHTS, LET THEM NOT TAKE AWAY MY LIGHT FROM ME,
AND LET THEM NOT SAY IN THEIR HEART: OUR POWER IS GLUTTED WITH HER LIGHT.
AND LET THEM NOT SAY: WE HAVE CONSUMED HER POWER.
BUT RATHER LET DARKNESS COME UPON THEM,
AND LET THOSE WHO LONG TO TAKE AWAY MY LIGHT FROM ME, BECOME POWERLESS,
AND LET THEM BE CLOTHED WITH CHAOS AND DARKNESS, WHO SAY THERE:
WE WILL TAKE AWAY HER LIGHT AND HER POWER.”
When I read these words, I almost couldn’t believe what I was seeing. And yet, what else was there to believe? Sophia’s repentance resonated more deeply than any esoteric text I’d yet encountered. The desperation of it. The sorrow and the rage. The torment of a soul wielding both the power to create and the power to destroy, learning how to accept this unfathomable responsibility.
Here, in a 2,000-year old book, was the exact sentiment I’d spontaneously received a few months prior when I dared to entertain the anglerfish’s perspective — or rather, my own subconscious drives which had brought me to that dark place in my life.
Across the fragile coherence of time and space, this was God talking to God.
And this was God, talking to me.
And this was me, talking to myself.
I wanted this post to be an eloquent, pseudo-scholarly study of the Pistis Sophia, and about how this revelation continues to save my life, and how religious texts shouldn’t be scoffed at as meaningless dribble, and something about synchronicity, and OMG isn’t it so cool that the anglerfish might be a real-life Sophia?!, and, and, and, and, and…
But you don’t need me to tell you what it all means.
You already know.