The Latin term meaning 'Soul of the World', a pure ethereal spirit diffused throughout all nature, regarded by ancient philosophers as being the divine essence which embraces and energizes all life in the universe.
Some traditions describe the Anima Mundi as the feminine creative power of God who turns the sphere of the stars and disperses planetary influences to nourish the material world. The Anima Mundi is also sometimes compared to the 'Shakti', the creative force in Hinduism.
The Anima Mundi appears in 'The History of the Macrocosm and the Microcosm' of Robert Fludd, who described her as a “supreme intelligence” of “an angelic nature.”
The theory of a soul of the world is almost as ancient as European philosophy itself. The earliest philosophers used to mean "the source of life", and Plato, who is considered by some to be the originator of this idea in Timaeus (or Timaios), used to mean "the animating principle of matter." Some say that its conception is of a more ancient origin.
This concept received great philosophical emphasis in the Stoic and neo-Platonic schools, which essentially transformed it according to their respective metaphysical intuitions.
By the Stoics Anima Mundi was believed to be the only vital force in the universe, and it has been entertained by many ancient philosophical sects in a variety of forms, and in more recent times by Paracelsus and others.
In the words of Dr. Rudd:
"All the Platonics and Pythagoreans, Orpheus, Trismegistus, Aristotle, Theophrastus, Avicenna, Algazales and all Peripatetics acknowledge that the world is not only inhabited by spirit and soul but also by the participation of the Divine Mind, and all origin, virtue and vigor of inferior things depends upon this Anima Mundi. The Magi called the Anima Mundi or the whole Universe, the realm of Jove; indeed they name it the Apollonian mind of the world."
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Sources: (1) Dictionary of the Occult, Caxton Publishing; (2) Cooper, J.C. (editor), Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable, Harper Collins Publishers; (3) McLean, Adam, A Treatise on Angel Magic: Maghum Opus Hermetic Sourceworks, Red Wheel Weiser Publishers; (4) Spence, Lewis, An Encyclopedia of Occultism, Carol Publishing Group; (5) Guiley, Rosemary Ellen, The Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy, Facts On File Publishing.
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