Nothing moves in straight lines
but in arcs, in epicycles, in spirals, in gyres.
Nothing living grows in cubes or cones or rhomboids
but we take a little here and give a little here
and we change
Poem excerpt from “I Saw Her Dancing” by Marge Piercy
In Why We Need Sophia Now Part 1, we considered heart dis-ease as a dire consequence of driving Sophia (the ancient goddess of Wisdom) underground in favor of logos, the masculine principle behind logic, reason, and technology. The after-effect of treating the heart as a mere pump, as the Western paradigm does, results in a stifling of Sophia. She symbolizes, in part, the heart’s portal to the 5th dimension, that of the mind of light, intuition, and absolute consciousness. In Western terms, physicist Oskar Klein describes the 5th dimension as a “unification of electromagnetism and gravitation based on Einstein’s general theory of relativity in a five-dimensional space-time.” Rather than attempting to unpack these terms, suffice it to say that modern physicists accept the reality of multiple dimensions, including the 5th. Ancient Wisdom traditions, such as Hinduism, have long understood that the heart is the doorway to the 5th dimension, that of the mind of light and absolute consciousness.
Aligned with the Tantric Chakra system, the 7 dimensions are associated with the chakras, pertinent to our discussion, the 4th aligns with the heart chakra (anahata) and the 5th is associated with the throat chakra (vishuddha). Most people have experienced moments of 5th dimensional reality when a clear insight or intuition pops into their mind. It’s a “place” where you experience flashes of inner knowing, creativity and your own unique genius.
The 4th and 5th dimensions overlap and the portal between the two is the spiraling Sophia—wisdom that is embodied in a highly coherent heart.
If the heart’s beating rhythm does not spiral in its signature sine wave pattern, Sophia is nowhere to be found (I’ll explain what I mean by this shortly). Entering into 5th dimension consciousness requires a spiral flow of heart rate and a stable heart center.
So What Blocks Sophia?
From the early Church Fathers through the Age of “Enlightenment,” and to our present technological era, the predominance of logos has put Sophia into a chthonic (death like) state. In doing so, we have lost connection with higher dimensions and states of consciousness as well. Much like Snow White in the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale who was tricked into eating a poisoned apple, Sophia has gone to sleep but is not completely lost to us. Re-balancing her with a healthy masculine energy will resuscitate her. In her lifeless state, as the prince in the fairy tale (healthy masculine principle) lifts her lifeless body onto his horse the piece of poisoned apple is dislodged and Snow White regains consciousness.
Similarly, Sophia can reawaken in ourselves and the world beyond when we collectively recover from our addiction to a logos-centric world, including the power hold of patriarchy. This helps to bring the feminine principle back to its rightful place in life.
By rebirthing Sophia, we reignite the creative mystery of the Universe through her ability to awaken the all-pervasive essence of energy and light within matter. Her birth canal is the human heart and her archetypal footprint is the spiral.
Minoan Snake Goddess
Providentially, the spirals of her essence are beginning to come alive again in the world today. The spiral has been precisely the archetypal symbol of Sophia throughout the ages, from the temples of Ancient Malta, to the Kundalini Shakti (embodied divine feminine energy), the Minoan Snake Goddess of Ancient Crete,the medical caduceus,to double helix strands of DNA, the code of life itself. This spiral feminine energy drives the evolutionary process forward and has done so since time immemorial.
The wisdom of Sophia is held in the archetype of the spiral. By tapping into the archetypal nature of spirals, including Sophia in her spiral form, the light of our soul returns, individually, collectively, and cosmically (anima mundi). The primordial spiral, whose derivative is the sine wave and exponent is the helix, provides a common symbol/language between Western science and Ancient wisdom. How so?
The Physical Heart as a Spiral
Let’s start with the physical heart itself; its muscular anatomy is based on spirals. Thanks to the work of 20th-century Spanish cardiologist and anatomist Francisco Torrent-Guasp and UCLA cardiologist Gerald Buckberg (“Basic science review: The helix and the heart” J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2002;124:863-83), we know that the structure of the heart itself is spiral in nature. During fetal development, the heart muscle folds itself in origami-like fashion to form reciprocal spirals that make up the four chambers of the heart.
From Torrent-Guasp F, Buckberg GD, Clemente C, Cox JL, Coghlan HC, Gharib M. the Structure and Function of the Helical Heart and its Buttress Wrapping
Reciprocal spirals occur when one spiral goes clockwise while the opposing one goes counterclockwise, as in the horns of a ram. Buckberg recognized that “Clearly, the heart contains a remarkable hidden harmony of spirals” (ibid). Further, this physical geometry of the heart has a lot to do with its efficient spiraling of blood, a dynamic pattern of blood flow. When the heart loses its helical shape through disease the blood no longer spirals as it should (Buckberg).
Interested readers are encouraged to read Buckberg’s “Basic science review: The helix and the heart” where he clearly explores the spiral and helical nature of the heart. At the physical level, the heart’s internal muscular blueprint is based on the archetypal spiral, but the spiral archetypal patterning does not stop with the physical architecture of the heart.
The Spiraling Nature of Heart Beats
“My feeling is that the common ground shared by physics and psychology does not lie in the parallelism of the formation of concepts but rather in ‘the ancient spiritual ‘dynamics’ of number’ “
qtd Pauli and Jung 202 /C. A. Meier, ed., Wolfgang Pauli und C. G. Jung: Ein Briefwechsel, 1932-1958.
Jung and Nobel Prize winning physicist, Wolfgang Pauli recognized the “ancient spiritual dynamics of number” and their assertion is quite appropriate to our discussion because numbers are an organizing principle that links the physical, psychological, and spiritual. The mathematical nature of the spiral exemplifies this principle par excellence. Not only is a healthy physical heart spiral in nature, it also produces energetic patterns based on spirals useful to scientists, depth psychologists, and Wisdom traditions. Archetypal energies appear in the material, psychological, and spiritual worlds, and as we will see later, the three phases are linked. Numbers are the organizing archetypal principle in nature (C. G. Jung) and are essential to both science and ancient Wisdom traditions.
In addition to the physical spiral musculature of the organ, a coherent heart also pulsates an energetic spiral pattern based on heart rate. We can make sense of this by first examining a healthy heart beat rhythm appearing as a sine wave (2-dimensional spiral).
A sine wave is one of the most basic forms in nature and is created by pulsating frequencies that generate a wave-like motion as shown in the figure below. A sine wave represents a 2-dimensional view of its spiral and helical counterparts expressed in numerical form. From the spiral formations of the galaxies to the beating rhythm of your heart, the sine wave serves as a guiding template.
You don’t have to be a mathematician to understand this important point: the heart generates serpentine like sine wave patterns when it is in a coherent state. In addition to the heart’s physical spiral form, the heart is designed to beat in such a way that it generates a sine wave spiral signature based on changes in heart rate. This state can be measured and quantified using the biomarker, heart rate variability (HRV). The normally occurring changes in heart rate is called heart rate variability, the variation of time between heart beats (rate of change of heart rate). In other words, heartbeats are supposed to speed up and slow down in a slow and rhythmic serpentine pattern.
The speeding up phase of heart rate is caused by the sympathetic nervous system branch (commonly referred to as fight or flight) and can be metaphorically thought of as the “masculine” principle because it accelerates and revs up bodily functions. Conversely, the slowing down of heart rate is directly controlled by the “feminine” parasympathetic nervous system. When the two “dance in sync” the heart literally generates a spiral pattern that can be measured using HRV. Heart rhythm coherence results when the autonomic nervous system (ANS) is working harmoniously. Think of the ANS as “automatic” meaning it functions below conscious awareness.
The figure below exemplifies the characteristic sine wave pattern of a healthy heart rate rhythm, a heart in harmony. The energy of the heart is focused and efficient.
A sine wave spiral pattern forms when your heart rate rises and falls smoothly showing that masculine and feminine principles are in balance. As you inhale, your heart rate speeds up; when you exhale your heart rate should slow down. These changes in heart rate are subtle and imperceptible and occur even when you are at rest or sleeping.
Unfortunately, a rhythmic and coherent heart rate is not usually the case. When we are stressed, the sympathetic branch gets stuck in overdrive while the parasympathetic gets subdued. This imbalance between the “gas petal” and “brake” can be symbolically thought of as the masculine principle squelching the feminine. This results in a distortion or disappearance of Sophia’s signature sine wave heart rhythm pattern.
The pattern devolves into static (like static between radio stations) which is inefficient and energy wasting. This can be clinically represented as a chaotic heart rhythm pattern which has lost its coherent spiral form as shown below. Think of an incoherent heartbeat as static between radio stations, signals are not getting through. Such a pattern is inefficient and impedes 2-way communication between the heart and the brain.
In addition to the many physical stress-related ramifications of an incoherent heart rhythm, the mind-body interplay comes into the picture as a two-way causal dynamic. Simply put, the mind affects the body and the body affects the mind.
Our emotional states directly impact our heart rhythm pattern, which can easily be demonstrated using HRV. Stressful emotional states result in chaotic heart rhythm patterns as shown above. When the body is in a stressed out state it affects our emotional landscape as well. Conversely, positive emotions generate smooth spiral patterns because the autonomic system returns to balance. Using various tools and techniques you can learn to shift your emotional landscape from stress to calm, from static to spirals.
Harmonious heart rhythm patterns (HRV) result from the dynamic balance between the masculine sympathetic branch and the feminine parasympathetic branch brought about by intentionally shifting one’s psychological state from stressed to centered and calm. Balancing these internal polar forces is important work that is at hand.
Emma Jung (wife of C. G. Jung) observed this about psychological masculine and feminine forces: “life is founded on the harmonious interplay of masculine and feminine forces, within the individual human being as well as without. Bringing these opposites into union is one of the most important tasks of present-day psychotherapy” (Emma Jung, 1955). The spiral archetype provides such clues as to when the masculine and feminine forces are indeed harmoniously interplaying. It’s not just psychological work that needs to be done to bring internal masculine and feminine forces into dynamic balance.
Again, the mind affects the body, but the body also affects the mind. That’s why practices such as yoga, meditation, pranayama, and other disciplines can be highly effective to bring about psychological as well as physical healing. The masculine-feminine harmonic balance occurs on the physical (as we have discussed), the psychological, and the spiritual. What distinguishes the three is the relative degree of heart rhythm coherence.
Heart Rhythm Coherence Happens in Degrees
Heart rhythm coherence is measured using HRV and HeartMath is one of several companies that design and manufacture biofeedback devices to record short term HRV. On the HeartMath Inner Balance scale, for example, the range of HRV measurements go from 0-16. People experiencing stress and anxiety remain in the lower ranges much of the time and getting beyond a score of 1 may be a challenge. With practice and patience, you can train your mind-body to go into higher ranges of heart coherence and remain there for progressively longer periods of time. This greatly counteracts mental states such as anxiety, addiction cravings, and depression.
Strong negative emotions such as fear, anger, and depression go hand in hand with low heart rhythm coherence. And although such emotions have their appropriate place and time, chronic states of negative emotions can lead to dis-ease. Low HRV is an indicator of advancing stress in the body and raising heart coherence is a wise investment in time and effort. Examples of techniques for raising HRV are ones such as meditative and mindfulness practices, although there are many. My book, Unveiling Sophia in an Age of Technology goes into further detail (release date Spring 2021).
The point is that we can lift ourselves out of negative emotional states through practices that elevate heart rhythm coherence. There are equally important reasons (if not more so) to raise HRV beyond a rudimentary sine wave pattern, the threshold that lifts us out of stress and anxiety. Higher levels of heart coherence begin to open the door to higher levels of awareness.
The Heart is a Portal to the 5th Dimension
The human heart is more than a blood pump; it has the capacity to access wisdom outside the domain of time and space and communicates this intelligence throughout one’s mind-body continuum and beyond. As ancient people/civilizations understood, this potent wisdom is what I have been referring to as Sophia, eternal feminine wisdom (in many other incarnations as well) held within matter, including our bodies. Although she has been largely silenced in modern times, it is possible for us to revitalize Sophia, beginning by syncing our heartbeat with the beat of Nature as Joseph Campbell suggested. In modern terms, this can be thought of as heart coherence.
|As we align our heart rhythm with the heartbeat of the Universal (electromagnetically speaking), we sync our somatic rhythms with the earth’s and anima mundi, the soul of the world. The higher the levels of resonance between systems, the higher states of heart coherence and consciousness we can encounter. Experiences of greater peace, love, oneness, and unity consciousness await us as we synchronize our heartbeats with the earth’s magnetic field or “heartbeat.”|
Few people dwell in the realm of high heart coherence on a consistent basis, i.e. HeartMath’s level 10-16 range. As heart coherence increases, you can experience states that transcend calmness and centeredness. From my personal observation and direct experience, there appears to be a hierarchical order of states of consciousness. The higher the states of heart rhythm coherence the more refined spiritual states of awareness can be. As Leroy Little Bear expresses in the foreword to On Creativity, written by theoretical physicist David Bohm, “What Blackfoot refer to as ‘spirit’ and energy waves are the same. All creation is spirit.”
Such an insightful observation highlights the spiritual potentiality of energy waves, including the energy of heart rhythm wave patterns. When the feminine aspect of heart rhythm comes back online, the spiral formation (heart rhythm coherence) returns signaling a return of Sophia. This assumes that the feminine principle does not dominate; rather, she is dynamically balanced with masculine sympathetic force–a harmonious dance between the two primal forces.
Ancient Wisdom traditions have long understood the heart to be the doorway to higher states of consciousness. Ancient Eastern traditions, for example, have called higher states of awareness Shuniya (zero point) and Samadhi (merging with Universal consciousness), to reference just a couple.
In the Tantric tradition of Hinduism, the spiraling serpent power is known as kundalini, the feminine creative force that spirals evolution forward. Kundalini derives from the Sanskrit word kundal, which means the “coil of the lock of the beloved’s hair.” Kundal implies an intimacy between lover and beloved, the masculine and feminine bonding that is possible within. The beloved “other” within, the higher Self, patiently awaits discovery, a concept also found in depth psychology. The kundalini is the feminine anima (soul), as Jung proclaimed.
Kundalini has been associated with the Hindu symbolic equivalent of Christ consciousness. As Christ consciousness is open to all, so is kundalini energy. Kundalini energy, in one of her forms, is physically embodied and lies dormant at the base of the spine until awakened, usually through conscious spiritual discipline. But for some people, the awakening is spontaneous, intense, and disruptive. Interested readers are encouraged to read the Case Study: “Lillian and the Emergence of the Divine Feminine” in the Appendix of Unveiling Sophia for a more detailed account of one woman’s kundalini awakening.
In her goddess form, Kundalini Shakti, is an Eastern incarnation of the archetypal Sophia. Sophia was anciently represented as the white dove of the Holy Spirit (as part of the Holy Trinity of the Old Testament who was an expression of the feminine aspects of God), released from the “stone” of matter through love. Through Sophia, the wisdom of the heart accelerates the evolution of humanity from one-sided logos to incorporate new forms of awareness. And through our collective evolution, we also heal the soul of the world, anima mundi.
As we continue to limit our vision to logos to solve global problems, our collective crises intensify. Chronic stress creates chaotic heart rhythm patterns in individuals, the theme of Chapter Three in Unveiling Sophia, and this disharmony spreads outwards evidenced by chronic diseases, opioid addictions, and rising suicide rates. More effective solutions will arise as we collectively utilize the full spectrum of human intelligence, logos, and Sophia.