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The Web in the Sea
Alice O. Howell
Jung, Sophia, and the Geometry of the Soul
Published by Quest Books in 1993
Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2002


After reading The Dove in the Stone and several other earlier Alice Howell books (Jungian Symbolism, Jung and Synchronicity), her books have become a must read for me. This latest book, subtitled "Jung, Sophia, and the Geometry of the Soul", was no disappointment. In it she brings alive the sacred geometry that she and her husband encounter on the island of Iona. She writes the book in the second person to her husband, as one might write a letter reminiscing on a joint trip you had taken with someone. Through this skillfully applied artifice she brings the reader into intimate proximity with a loving couple discovering new insights and sharing their experiences of Jung, Sophia, and sacred geometrical patterns.

Her personification of Sophia as a female spirit with a mischievous bent is delightful. She connects Sophia to the fairy godmother of fairy tales and her personal fairy godmother, Mercy Muchmore, who says at one point, "When in a muddle, go to the middle. That's the only way." Thus Alice leads us to see ourselves in the "Looking Glass" of circumstance, the daily encounters with the spaces and objects surrounding us, as another Alice did in the fictional world of Lewis Carroll.

Throughout this book Alice leads us into various corners of our collective psyche as she seeks to re-tie (re-ligare, the root of the word "religion") the loose ends of our symbolic and everyday life. She uses Sufi stories, geometry, Jungian teachings, and the impromptu insights of Sophia as they walk the sacred Hebridian isle of Iona to accomplish this formidable task.

To discover the sacred in the mundane, the deep in the shallow, the square in the round, read this book. Alice will help you to discover "books in running brooks, sermons in stones, and meaning in everything," as Shakespeare said it. Like Jung's books, Howell's are "double-bottomed" with additional depths of meaning that are hinted at on first reading. So save yourself additional trips to the library by purchasing this book for your permanent collection.

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