The Emanations of Light

By Linda Mihalic

Emanation is the act of flowing or proceeding from a fountain-head or origin. That which issues, flows or proceeds from any source, substance or body; efflux; effluvium. Light is an emanation from the sun; wisdom, from God; the authority of laws, from the supreme power.Webster’s American Dictionary
  Synonyms for emanation include emission, effluence, outflows, outpouring, outpours drains, flows.—Merriam-Webster Dictionary
  Another definition of emanation reduces it to “something which originates or issues from a source; the action or process of issuing from a source; a substance or form of radiation given off by something; in various mystical traditions, a being or force which is a manifestation of God.”—Oxford English Dictionary

“All finite creatures are lesser parts of the Divine Being.”

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good.”—Genesis 1:1-4.
  From this opening passage in the Book of Beginnings, we find that God moved as Spirit first. Then God spoke the Word, and Light was; that is, Light came into being on His spoken Word, the Logos of Creation. Next, God saw that the Light was good. Thus, to see anything and to declare it good instantly is the mandate of Christed Idealism.
  God is. Light is. God is Light. Light is God, externalized in manifestation. Light is the ultimate principle, which is defined as the absolute, universal, unchangeable, undeviating immutable foundation upon which all universes are based and established.
  Law, the framework of Creation, describes the nature of the Light, and how Light differentiates into innumerable living souls. Light is the origin and culmination of all being, which holds the potential for all becoming. Laws describe the infinite varieties of forms, all made of Light. Laws define the nature of our relationship with our Source, God as the Light, and govern our relationships, vertically with God, and horizontally with humankind.
  Where life does not proceed according to the rule of law, the result is without structure or form, void, the destructive chaos of confusion. Life without law is like a body without a skeleton, unable to rise above the muck that nourishes protozoa.
  Light is the Godhead, the universal absolute principle, the source of the Emanations. Light pours from the Godhead through the universe in waves. These emanations flow as Light from the Source of All Being—as the absolute first principles of being and action throughout the universe. Inherent in the emanations of Light are Wisdom, Love, and the Logos, the Three as One Light, named for the aspect predominating.
  As the universal framework, absolute principle contains All-That-Is at the Source, to govern, regulate and control the universe through its being and action. Absolute principle is ultimate Goodness, Truth and Beauty, an unalterable and permanent fact.
  The Emanations are the absolute principles of being throughout the universe. Thus, Wisdom manifests as omniscient Mind, the universal intelligence and law, that which knows, thinks, and plans. Love manifests as omnipresent Substance, present as all degrees of faith and every nourishing and sustaining expression. The Logos manifests as the omnipotent Power of the Word, as energy, joy, selflessness, equilibrium and every unifying expression within Creation.
  The idea or concept of emanation is that all-that-exists flows unceasingly from the All-That-Is into manifestation according to its degree and kind of subsequent form, always from the greater to the lesser. Thus, all finite creatures are lesser parts of the Divine Being. “Unlike evolution…emanation holds to the immutability of the first principle as to both quality and quantity.” 1 Empedocles of Acagras in Sicily, who first posited the four elements of earth, water air and fire, also asserted that our sensual perceptions arise as emanations or effluences from the objects that we perceive.

“To see anything and to declare it good instantly is
the mandate of Christed Idealism.”

  By the mid-20th Century, physicist Werner Heisenberg had found concurrence with the thinking on the emanations of Light that we express here on the Via Christa: “In the philosophy of Democritus the atoms are eternal and indestructible units of matter, they can never be transformed into each other. With regard to this question modern physics takes a definite stand against the materialism of Democritus and for Plato and the Pythagoreans. The elementary particles are certainly not eternal and indestructible units of matter, they can actually be transformed into each other. As a matter of fact, if two such particles, moving through space with a very high kinetic energy, collide, then many new elementary particles may be created from the available energy and the old particles may have disappeared in the collision. Such events have been frequently observed and offer the best proof that all particles are made of the same substance: energy. But the resemblance of the modern views to those of Plato and the Pythagoreans can be carried somewhat further. The elementary particles in Plato’s Timaeus are finally not substance but mathematical forms. ‘All things are numbers’ is a sentence attributed to Pythagoras. The only mathematical forms available at that time were such geometric forms as the regular solids or the triangles which form their surface.
  “In modern quantum theory there can be no doubt that the elementary particles will finally also be mathematical forms but of a much more complicated nature. The Greek philosophers thought of static forms and found them in the regular solids. Modern science, however, has from its beginning in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries started from the dynamic problem. The constant element in physics since Newton is not a configuration or a geometrical form, but a dynamic law. The equation of motion holds at all times, it is in this sense eternal, whereas the geometrical forms, like the orbits, are changing. Therefore, the mathematical forms that represent the elementary particles will be solutions of some eternal law of motion for matter. This is a problem which has not yet been solved.” 2

  The first documented mention of the doctrine of the emanations is in the Wisdom of Solomon, “Wisdom is more moving than any motion: she passeth and goeth through all things by reason of her pureness. For she is the breath of the power of God, and a pure influence flowing from the glory of the Almighty: therefore can no defiled thing fall into her. For she is the brightness of the everlasting light, the unspotted mirror of the power of God, and the image of his goodness. And being but one, she can do all things: and remaining in herself, she maketh all things new: and in all ages entering into holy souls, she maketh them friends of God, and prophets.”—Wisdom of Solomon 6:24-27.
  The doctrine of emanation, to the Greco-Roman Platonists 3 of the 3rd Century, was that the whole of Creation is Mind over Matter, which makes them our predecessors as Idealist philosophers. To them “… the highest principle, the One, overflows without a conscious act, merely by a law of its nature, losing nothing of its fullness and this process has no end in time. It goes from more perfect to less perfect, and the ineffable Unity is the source of all plurality. The Nous (Intellect), the first stage in the process, thinks, and thus from it emanate the soul and the Logos (Word). So the process goes on until the lowest stage is reached in essenceless matter. The notion of emanation was frequently used by the early Christian writers in the attempt to express the relation of the Son and the Holy Spirit to the Father.” 4
  As it relates to Jewish mysticism, specifically to the Kabbalists of the 12th to 15th Centuries, emanation is defined as “… the doctrine that all existing things have been produced not by any creative power, but as successive outflowings from the Godhead, so that all finite creatures are part and parcel of the Divine Being. This pantheistic doctrine, which was the basis of many Oriental religions and was professed by the Gnostics, attained its highest development in the Alexandrian Neoplatonic schools. By it the Neoplatonists endeavored to surmount the threefold difficulties involved in the idea of creation: (1) the act of creation involves the assumption of a change in the unchangeable being of God; (2) it is incomprehensible that the absolutely infinite and perfect could have produced imperfect and finite beings; (3) ‘creatio ex nihilo’ is unimaginable.”—Kaufmann and Broydé, The Jewish Encyclopedia.
  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”—John 1:1-5.


1^ “Emanation,” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

2^ Werner Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science.

3^ We do not count these early writers as Neoplatonists, for they did not regard themselves as such.

4^ “Emanation,” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Top ↑

Edna Miriam Lister
The original Pioneering Mystic,
Christian Platonist philosopher, American Idealist, Founder, Society of the Universal Living Christ, minister, teacher, author, wife, and mother.

Edna Lister

Etymology of emanation: Late Latin emanationem (nom. emanatio), from Latin emanare “flow out, arise, proceed,” from e- (ex‑) “out” + manare “to flow.”

The Emanations



The Logos

Absolute Principle


Harper, Douglas. Online Etymology Dictionary, 2024.

Heisenberg, Werner. Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science (New York: Harper and Row, 1958). Lectures delivered at University of St. Andrews, Scotland, Winter 1955-56. Excerpt from the chapter “Quantum Theory and the Roots of Atomic Science,” pp. 71-72.

The Holy Bible. King James Version (KJV).

“Emanation,” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ISSN 2161-0002; April 13, 2001 [accessed 24 February 2017].

Kohler, Kaufmann and Isaac Broydé. "Emanation," The Jewish Encyclopedia, 12 volumes, 1906; [accessed 1 January 2017].

The Oxford English Dictionary: Compact Ed., 2 vols. E.S.C. Weiner, ed. Oxford University Press, 1971.

Webster, Noah. "Emanation," Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language. New York: S. Converse, 1828. This work is in the public domain.

Recommended Reading

Encyclopedia Judaica, "Emanation" in Jewish Philosophy and Kabbalah.

Related Topic

Abstract Principle