1000 petals by axinia

the only truth I know is my own experience

Vladimir Soloviev, a Russian prophet of the 19th century September 6, 2010

Filed under: thoughts — axinia @ 9:18 am

Let me intoduce here one more jewel of Russian Sprituality and culture.

Vladimir Soloviev (1853-1900) one of the greatest philosophers of the nineteenth century, was the founder of a tradition of Russian spirituality that brought together philosophy, mysticism, and theology with a powerful social message. A close friend of Dostoevsky, a Platonist, and a gnostic visionary, Solovyov was a prophet, having been granted three visions of Sophia, Divine Wisdom. He was also a poet and a profoundly Christian metaphysicist. His most important works include Lectures on Divine Humanity; The Justification of the Good; and War, Progress, and the End of History.

Soloviev had an intense connection to the Divine in the form of the feminine archetype of Sophia or Holy Wisdom. His writings had a strong influence on Russian Symbolist poetry and on Russian spirituality in general in the early 20th century.

Soloviev was born into the elite of the intelligentsia. His father was a prominent history professor at Moscow University and his mother was Ukrainian and related to the philosopher Hrihoriy Skovoroda. He was a gifted child and read extensively. When he was nine years old, in 1862, he had his first vision of Sophia (Divine Feminine), during an Orthodox church service. She appeared as a beautiful woman–“an image so radiant and powerful that he would come to pursue its meaning throughout his adult life.”

At the age of 13, Solovyov renounced the Orthodox Church and began a troubled exploration of the philosophies of materialism and nihilism. He initially studied natural history and biology at university, but his grades began to slip. He switched to studies in history and philosophy. Sometime around the age of 20, he “reconverted” to the Orthodox Church, and became a lay theological student and lecturer. He later traveled to London to do research among the religious and spiritual texts at the British Museum.

It was then, while studying in the British Museum, that Solovyov had his second encounter with Sophia, where he saw only her face. One day, when he was studying in the British Museum reading room, he had his second vision of her. This is his poem that records the event that was to suddenly changed the course of his life:

I said to her: O, blossom of a deity!

You’re here, I sense it–why haven’t you revealed

Yourself to my eyes since childhood years?

And no sooner had I thought this prayer

Than everything was filled with a golden azure,

And before me she shined once more–

But only her face–it alone. . . .

I said to her: your face has appeared,

But I want to have a look at all of you. . . .

“Be in Egypt!” a voice within me sounded.

To Paris! and a vapor carried me south.

My feelings didn’t even struggle with my reason:

Reason kept silent like an idiot. (Groberg, “Eternal Feminine,” 81)

He went to Egypt and Sophia once again appeared to him in the desert at dawn. This time she revealed herself to him fully, completely transforming him. She also showed him a vision of the Earth transfigured, all of nature, all things, unified within her form as the Divine Feminine.

“The tall thin Soloviev set out on foot across the desert for Thebes, dressed in his black frock coat and tall Victorian top hat. He apparently terrified a group of Bedouins who, he claimed, mistook him for a demon and captured him. They released him and he spent the night in the desert. He awoke to the scent of roses and had his third and last vision of Sophia:

And in the purple of the heaven’s splendor,

With eyes filled with an azure fire,

You looked like the first radiance

Of a universal and creative day. . . .

I saw everything, and everything was one thing only–

A single image of female beauty. . .

The infinite fit within its dimensions:

Before me, in me–were you alone.

O, radiant woman! In you I am not deceived:

In the desert I saw all of you. . .

Those roses will not wither in my soul wherever life’s wave may speed.

Only an instant! The vision concealed itself–

And the sun’s orb rose in the sky.

The desert was silent.

My soul was praying,

And the ringing of church bells didn’t cease in it. (Groberg, “Eternal Feminine,” 82-82)

It was this third and last vision of Sophia in 1876 that profoundly altered Soloviev and his philosophy. He regarded the first two visions as preparations for the ultimate vision in the desert. He considered himself a changed man.”


After his return to Russia, Solovyov briefly taught philosophy at Moscow University, but soon left because he disliked university politics. He then moved to St. Petersberg where he wrote and taught.

Solovyov taught an engaged Christianity of service and activism, in which the binding power of Sophia — the Mother/Wisdom/Love nature of God — could heal the world.

For Solovyov art could be a modern form of prophecy to bring greater awareness of this mystical unity to humanity.


17 Responses to “Vladimir Soloviev, a Russian prophet of the 19th century”

  1. nimirel Says:

    If desires fly by like shadows,
    If vows are empty words,
    Is it worth it to live in this fog of delusion,
    Is it worth it to live if the truth is dead?

    Does one need eternity for useless striving,
    Does one need eternity for deceptive words?
    What is worthy of life lives without doubts,
    A higher power knows no bonds.

    Knowing one’s own higher power,
    Why wail on about childish dreams?
    Life is just an exploit, and the living truth
    Shines like immortality in moldering graves

    Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov 🙂 poem ‘if desires fly by like shadows’.

  2. Wow! I haven’t heard of Soloviev before. Thanks for sharing, Axinia. What baffles me is that there is only one comment/response (Mirel’s) on this spiritual personality, so far at least 😕

    Solovyov taught an engaged Christianity of service and activism, in which the binding power of Sophia

    I’m delighted to learn that he actually did something worthy and useful, unlike the hordes of so-called “spiritual” personae from one particular uncouth, barbaric, turd world dump hole who mostly try to pass off bubble-dwelling as “spirituality”.

    …dressed in his black frock coat and tall Victorian top hat. He apparently terrified a group of Bedouins who, he claimed, mistook him for a demon and captured him.

    Poor old Soloviev 😦 Mistaken for a demon 😯 He should have traded his black frock coat and Victorian hat for a loose-fitting gown and turban when he arrived in Egypt. Given his long beard, the locals would have probably respected him as a learned religious scholar instead of mistakenly believing him to be a demon.


    • Avdhut Says:

      ‘Bubble-Dwelling’ :-)) Great …:-)

      • It’s funny, isn’t it? 🙂

        One group of people, let’s call them Group X, constantly calls members of another group, Group Y by certain names. From the perspective of the egos of Group X members, those of Group Y are “illusion-viewers” who are “deceived by the grand illusion around them”. Those of Group X see nothing wrong in terming Group Y members in such a manner and the latter don’t seem to mind this either.

        But at the very moment a member of Group Y (from the perspective of his ego) begins to call those from Group X as “bubble-dwellers” who “live in an easily burstable, warm and cosy bubble of their own making”, the ones of Group X find it so baffling 😕

        It’s a strange world 😐


        • Vinayakah Says:

          There is one student of Chemistry in Washington University, that touches this topic of various groups of “the only ones” in his answer on professor’s question. Lets see it…I love this….cause he explains much more than explaining of Boyle’s law only 😉

          The following is an actual question given on University of Washington chemistry mid-term. The answer by one student was so “profound” that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well.

          Bonus Question of the mid-term exam: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?
          Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle’s Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.
          One student, however, wrote the following:

          “First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving.
          As for how many souls are entering Hell, let’s look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell.
          Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially.
          Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle’s Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added. This gives two possibilities:
          1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.
          2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.
          So which is it?
          If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my freshman year that “it will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you,” and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number 2 must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over.
          The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is, therefore, extinct…leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being, which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting “Oh my God.”


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  7. Vinayakah Says:

    Beautifull post Axinia, in Russia was a lot of amazing people. Thanks for mentioning Soloviev – about him I was not aware.

  8. vets bristol Says:

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  9. Hey, you used to write magnificent, but the last several posts have been kinda boring¡K I miss your super writings. Past few posts are just a bit out of track! come on!

    • Richard hopkins Says:

      Stumbled upon this great post and glad to see any reference to solovyov as longtime enthusiast,who along with berdyaev and especially little known but influential philosopher fyodorov has done much to enhance westerners understanding of Russian spirituality

  10. Annael Says:

    Hi there! I loved what you posted about V. S Solovyov. I read some of his books and poems also and I just love his spirit! Thank you very much! I shared on FB this particular page from your blog.
    All the best,

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