Midnight Sun : Henry Corbin, Sufism

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The Midnight Sun
Henry Corbin: The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism

Let us consider what a light can signify which is neither eastern nor wester, the northern light: midnight sun, blaze of the aurora borealis.  It is no longer a question of day succeeding night, or night, day.  Daylight breaks in the middle of the night and turns into day a night which is still there but which is a Night of light.  

The “midnight sun” appears in many rituals of mystery religions, just as it suddenly bursts forth, in Sohravardi’s work, in the midst of an ecstasy of which Hermes is the hero.  Later Iranian Sufi masters refer to the Night of Light, the dark Noontide, the black Light.  And in the Manichean fait it is the flames of the aurora borealis that are visualized in the Columna gloriae as composed of all the particles of Light reascending from the infernum to the Earth of light, the Terra lucida, itself situated, like the paradise of Yima, in the north, that is, in the cosmic north.

Preceding all empirical datea, the archetype-Images are the organs of meditation, of the active Imagination; they effect the transmutation of these data by giving them their meaning.

Here, “traveling the straight path” means straying neigher to the east nor to the west; it means climbing the peak, that is, being drawn toward the center; it is the ascent out of cartographical dimensions, the discovery of the inner world which secretes its own light, which is the world of light; it is an innerness of light as opposed to spatiality of the outer world which, by contrast, will appear as Darkness. 

The “midnight sun” .  .  . is the initiatic light . . . with its horizons upon horizons: it may be be the divine Night of superconsciousness irradiating the field of light of consciousness, and it may be the light of consciousness overcoming the Darkness of the subconscious, of the unconsciousness which was hemming it in.  In both cases a burt of light rends the tissue of ready-made answers: the fictions of  casual relationships, of linear evolutions, of continuous currents, everything that bolsters what people have agreed to call the “sense of history.”

The midnight sun is the illuminatio matutina, the brilliance of dawn rising in the Orient-origin of the soul, that is, at the celestial pole . . . of the Cosmic North . . . the “Oriental” in the polar sense of the word, that is, the exiled Gnostic, the stranger who refuses the “yoke” of the “oppressors” because he has been sent to this world for a purpose which they cannot recognize.  

The midnight sun typifies the inner light, that which is secreted by the abode itself, in its own secret way.  

The totality symbolized by “midnight sun” is the Deus absconditus and the Angel Logos, or, in terms of Shi’ite gnosis, the pole, the Imam, which brings light into the night of the inner world.  

The person of light . . . has been given many other names, all reminiscent of the “midnight sun.”  Najm Kobra refers to the Guide of light as the Sun of the heart, the Sun of certainty, the Sun of faith, the Sun of knowledge, the spiritual Sun of the Spirit.  And more explicitly still he says: “Know that the mystic has a Witness.  He it is who is called the personal Master in the suprasensory world.  He carries the mystic up toward the Heavens; thus it is in the Heavens that he appears.”

These "suns of the heart" . . . announce the presence of the Angel-Logos or of one of the angelic Intelligences.  As in Hermes' vision, angelophany is associated with the symbol of the "midnight sun," of luminous Night, because the first Intelligence, the Angel-Logos, is the initial and primordial theophany of the Deus absconditus.   

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