Cosmic Consciousness of Julian of Norwich

Julian instructs us in a cosmic consciousness—an important awareness in a time of plague.

Contemporary version of the Beatitudes for global action on the current climate crisis. A collaboration of the Franciscan Action Network and Global Catholic Climate Movement.

Julian celebrates the kingdom of God as the cosmos and in the process stretches one’s image of soul or psyche. She writes that she saw “the soul so large as if it were an endless world and a joyful kingdom” with God sitting in the center. Is this her way of responding to what Aquinas says when he declares that every human being is “capable of the universe,” i.e. that our souls are indeed “so very large” and the kingdom of God is both very large and deeply joyful?

A dynamic view of all of the cosmic wonder. Photo by Yash Raut on Unsplash.

Julian draws ethical implications from a deepened cosmic consciousness. “Those who have universal love for all their fellow Christians in God have love toward everything that exists.”  Love towards everything that exists is also something very large.

Furthermore, she says: “I know well that heaven and earth and all creation are great, generous and beautiful and good.”  Notice she addresses all creation.

Julian also shares an image of the universe that fits in her palm.  God showed me in my palm a little thing round as a ball about the size of a hazelnut.  I looked at it with the eye of my understanding and asked myself: ‘What is this thing?’  And I was answered: ‘It is everything that is created.’  We see here again a cosmic awareness–she saw all creation (today that would be two trillion galaxies!) condensed into a ball the size of a hazelnut. (Today’s science tells us the universe began smaller than a zygote.)

Dancing at dusk in the meadows. Photo by Chloe Si on Unsplash.

But she had questions about her vision.  “I wondered how it could survive since it seemed so little it could suddenly disintegrate into nothing.  The answer came: ‘It endures and ever will endure, because God loves it.’  And so everything has being because of God’s love.”  Love holds creation together.

Julian recognizes Christ’s crucifixion as a cosmic event more than just a personalized sacrifice for her sins.  She offers a meditation on the Cosmic Christ when she speaks of Jesus’ crucifixion as affecting all of nature. “All creatures of God’s creation that can suffer pain suffered with him. The sky and the earth failed at the time of Christ’s dying because he too was part of nature.”  Nature is innocent morally speaking.  Nature suffers when human injustice—including the killing of Jesus—takes place.

Because Julian holds for a panentheistic understanding of creation’s relationship with the Divine, she recognizes in all the universe the presence of the Divine.  The Divine courses through history and creation.  She images our relationship to God in a panentheistic manner when she writes that “we have all been enclosed within God.” And again, “We are in God and God, whom we do not see, is in us.”

Brendan Doyle, Meditations with Julian of Norwich, pp. 114, 25.

See Matthew Fox, Preface, in Doyle, Meditations with Julian of Norwich, pp. 11-16.

Wrestling with the prophets, pp. 75-104

Banner Image: View of the cosmos and mountains at night. Photo by Benjamin Voros on Unsplash.

Queries for Contemplation

Be with Julian when she tells us “everything has being because of God’s love.”  What follows from that?  What trust and peace emerge (even during a pandemic)?

Have you experienced “all of creation” as beautiful and generous and good?

Recommended Reading

Wrestling with the Prophets: Essays on Creation Spirituality and Everyday Life

In one of his foundational works, Fox engages with some of history’s greatest mystics, philosophers, and prophets in profound and hard-hitting essays on such varied topics as Eco-Spirituality, AIDS, homosexuality, spiritual feminism, environmental revolution, Native American spirituality, Christian mysticism, Art and Spirituality, Art as Meditation, Interfaith or Deep Ecumenism and more.

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4 thoughts on “Cosmic Consciousness of Julian of Norwich”

  1. Avatar
    Thomas Ivan Dahlheimer

    The Hindus and New Agers who believe in the theology of Helena Blavatsky, the Mother of the New Age movement, believe that our souls are individualized reflections of the Eternal Infinite Spirit. Hindus and New Agers believe that we are Spirit, or One with Our Heavenly Father (as Jesus Christ said He was), and that we have eternal souls that are Infinite, without boundaries, and that to reduce our souls to be contained within the universe, or to be only as big as the universe, is a form of idolatry.

  2. Avatar

    I love the photo’s,I ones experienced the cosmic wonder, about 7 years ago on holiday
    2 am in the early morning I saw the milky way galaxy It was awesome that image will always be with me
    The same time I was reading this meditation on Julian ,
    I was reading Bhagavad Gita
    Chapter 11 the cosmic vision
    The translation I use by Eknath Easwaran
    If you have a copy have a look at this chapter
    Love & stay safe

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Dear Billy,
      Thank you for the referral to the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 11 as translated by Eknath Easwaran. I am glad for your experience gazing at the Milky Way. With all the light pollution at night, its not an experience that is waiting outside our windows every night. When we find ourselves standing in true night, there it is. To think we are looking at an inconceivable amount of space and an an immeasurable amount of time twinkling above us is truly awe inspiring.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

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