In Fearful Symmetry, (1947) Northrop Frye discusses Böhme’s work in relationship to William Blake. This is a great book, highly recommended for all those interested in the imagination. According to Frye, Böhme’s work concerns itself with three stages or ‘principles.’ Frye succinctly describes these principles:
“The first ‘principle’ is God conceived as wrath or fire, who torments himself inwardly until he splits open and becomes the second principle,” (p. 157)
Böhme’s cosmology includes a division into the light and a dark aspects of the God image. For Böhme’s the God-image is split from within. The split is between the Holy Ghost as the light aspect and the Father as the dark.
Jakob Böhme (1575 – 1624) was a German mystic. He wrote several mystical treatises which influenced G.W.F. Hegel, Carl Jung, and other German thinkers. Carl Jung speaks of Böhme’s work. He says:
“A historical example of the [division into light and dark] is Jakob Böhme’s mandala, in his treatise XL Questions concerning the Soule… It is an image of God and is designated as such.” (CW 91, para. 717)
Eliade’s (1950) research found that Visionary states appear as a cross-cultural manifestation in shamans (Eliade, 1950). What differentiates the shaman from other individuals in the tribe “is his ecstatic experience” (p.107). The shamanic vision is an “inner, ecstatic experience” (Eliade, p.65). The vision transforms the profane individual into a “technician of the sacred” (p. 33).
The vision is a spontaneous experience loaded with universally found symbolism. Eliade found that the most common shamanic experience is “the passage from one cosmic region to another” (p. 259). The vision gives the individual mastery of “break-through in plane” (p. 259). ‘Break-through in plane’ is an experience of moving between the world of the living and the world of spirit. This is most often symbolized as moving from earth to sky and from earth to the underworld.
Carl Jung is so bold as to tell us: “Religion is a vital link with psychic processes independent of and beyond consciousness, in the dark hinterland of the psyche…” (Carl Jung, CW 9I, para. 262). Religion affects psyche and psyche affects religion.