Sophia Sutras: Introducing Mother Wisdom

Sophia Sutras: Introducing Mother Wisdom

By Carol E. Parrish-Harra
Tahlequah, OK: Sparrow Hawk Press, 2006. Paperback, 290 pages.

In April, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Carol Parrish, when she was lecturing in Asheville, North Carolina. Carol is a graceful and generous spiritual teacher, best known as Dean of the Sancta Sophia Seminary for the past thirty years. Her spiritual journey began with a near-death experience in 1958, the story of which she recounted in her autobiography, Messengers of Hope. She told me:

Carol Parrish-Harra: I knew from my near-death experience, which was fifty years ago next year, that I was related to the Divine Feminine and that was powerful in me, even though I had no feminist theology or thoughts. I didn't even know what that meant at the time.

JP: Over the years since, Carol has often written about the feminine side of God, perhaps most notably in The Aquarian Rosary, but she has turned sustained attention to the topic in the current volume.

CP: What I wanted to do with my book was to introduce people to Sophia the way I know her. I feel that she is with us always at the edge of our mind, that she moves with us and through us and moves us in all these ways that we never rationalize and we never understand. She just touches and prompts and pats and whispers, and then we say, "Oh! Yes, I have had that thought." I wanted to write with her own style. Each of us has our style. Knowing Sophia has a style…She slips into our lives and disappears. It is like a window opens for just a minute. It is an essence. The book took me three years-I collected little thoughts, ideas, bits and pieces. When I had time, I would connect them, allowing the prompting of that presence in my life put the book together.

JP: The book feels verymuch like a conversation between friends, with short chapters reflecting on topics from Creation to Darkness to Grace. The text is punctuated with illuminating quotes, carefully chosen illustrations, and instructions for meditation. It is not a systematic work, and is best encountered in short bits in connection with inner work. It can also be read as time allows, choosing a chapter at random.

CP: It isn't a rational book. So much of our life is not rational. If we were totally rational beings, we would never fall in love, certainly never have children, never start a business. These things cost too much. They take too much out of us. They are too risky, too demanding. They impede us in so many ways that we say we're not going to be bothered. And yet we fall in love, we start things, we do all this strange stuff that makes life wonderful and exciting. But most of it is not rational-it is the flavoring, the spice, all these other things. And I think that is the role Sophia brings to us.

JP: Carol has drawn from an enormous variety of sources:

CP: I think the overriding factor about myself is that I am very curious. I feel like we should use wisdom from anywhere.

JP: Nonetheless, any Theosophist will quickly recognize many connections to the traditions flowing from Blavatsky and the TS. Carol told me about a significant spiritual experience, early on her journey. In recounting this epiphany to a friend, he suggested she get in touch with the Theosophical Society:

CP: I asked, "What is the Theosophical Society?" He gave me the address of a library in St. Petersburg. I went to the library, very eager with questions I had been holding for five years, but the elderly librarians did not want to talk to me. One man told me I was too young, and that I should come back in twenty years. It was not a good start with Theosophy, but then I found Leadbeater’s book, TheMasters and the Path. I thought to myself, "Wow! Here it is!"

JP: I was pleased to hear that Carol continues writing, along with her work with the Light of Christ Community Church, Sparrow Hawk Village, and Sancta Sophia Seminary, sharing her wisdom and experience in many forms.

CP: Our world has had too many priests and teachers and leaders who have never had an experience, and that is part of what is wrong. We want to help them find that experience.

November/December 2007