Life is an unfoldment, and the further we travel the more truth we can comprehend. To understand the things that are at our door is the best preparation for understanding those that lie beyond.
~ Hypatia (ca. 350–370 – March 415 C.E.)
Today is Hypatia Day! (*)
Hypatia of Alexandria was an astronomer, mathematician and philosopher in Roman Egypt. Socrates of Constantinople, also known as Socrates Scholasticus, wrote that “she far surpassed all the philosophers of her time,” and was greatly respected for her “extraordinary dignity and virtue.”
She was a Greek Neoplatonist philosopher and one of the last of the librarians of the Royal Library of Alexandria, Egypt, which was one of the great wonders of the ancient world.
Women’s historian Jone Johnson Lewis writes, “From the little historical information about Hypatia that survives, it appears that she invented the plane astrolabe, the graduated brass hydrometer and the hydroscope, with Synesius of Greece, who was her student and later colleague.
“Hypatia dressed in the clothing of a scholar or teacher, rather than in women’s clothing. She moved about freely, driving her own chariot, contrary to the norm for women’s public behavior. She exerted considerable political influence in the city.”
According to “War Against the Pagans,” in Secret History of the Witches © 2000 by Max Dashu, “The surviving fragments of Hypatia’s teachings indicate a mystical orientation. Glimpses of her spiritual views survived in the letters of her disciples, which speak of ‘the eye buried within us,’ a ‘divine guide.’
“As the soul journeys toward divinity,” he writes of her vies, “this ‘hidden spark which loves to conceal itself’ grows into a flame of knowing. Hypatia’s philosophy was concerned with the ‘mystery of being,’ contemplation of Reality, rising to elevated states of consciousness, and ‘union with the divine,’ the One. [Polish historian Maria Dzielska, 54-5, 48-50].”
Sadly, in March of 415 C.E., in one of the increasingly frequent and violent clashes involving members of the new religion attacking the scholarly classes of Alexandria’s Jews and Pagans, a band of Christian monks seized Hypatia on the street, beat her, and dragged her body to a church where they tore her to pieces with sharp tiles and burned her remains.
This marked the catastrophic decline of the great center for learning and enlightenment that was Alexandria, Egypt, and has been called the defining moment of the end of Classical antiquity.
But the Wheel turns.
At Cherry Hill Seminary, Hypatia is our Guardian Ancestor because we are building a school of rigorous academic excellence that she would be proud of. Grounded in modern Pagan values, we offer training and scholarly opportunities not seen since the fall of Alexandria.
On this special day, I invite you to join the society that bears her name. We need your help, as we create outstanding educational resources for all people practicing Earth-based spirituality.
(*) Yes, it’s also the Ides of March. But all months have Ides; this just happens to be the infamous one that did Julius Caesar in).