Virgin of the Flame

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Wisdom envisioned glory in some icons of the Virgin of the Unburned Bush as a Virgin of the Flame, whose vermilion glory consumes confusion and division but not the union in difference that characterises paradise restored.  She is the burning wisdom of the Spirit’s Pentecostal flame that does not consume wholesome creation but extinguishes the confusion that divides creation from God.  Her wisdom function is to transmit God the consuming fire in such a way that creation is not consumed but healed.  The vermilion Virgin is the wisdom of the unburned bush who cures fire by fire.  Destructive demonic fires are overcome by the uncreated fire of glory, the fire of the Holy of Holies present in our midst.  The vermilion and gold of Holy Wisdom signify theosis, deification, whose wisdom injunctions are to turn and see.  Turning awakens the heart to the grace of seeing, theoria, where seer and seen are one.  Seeing is God’s union of seer and seen in Holy Trinity.  It is the fruit of wisdom experienced as the tree of life, whose gift is timeless awareness of eternal presence.  It is the way, truth and life of the Holy Name, whose glory births timeless wisdom.

The Virgin of the Bush is the Virgin of the Throne who births Christ Emmanuel, God with us, in our midst.  Icons inspired by the Hesychast tradition often reflect this wisdom of the First Temple as it was preserved in Christian Apocalyptic literature.  They are wisdom icons even when they depict Holy Wisdom as the Virgin Mother of God, in accordance with the wisdom poetry of the Akathist Hymn.  Her Seraphic flame pierces and purifies the heart, opening us to the mysteries of the Holy of Holies.  Her uncreated glory communicates the hidden mysteries of the Bridal Chamber which inspired the mysteries of the Beloved Disciple, enshrined in the Fourth Gospel, the three epistles of John and the Book of Revelation.  The Virgin of the vermilion flame is wisdom who inspires all the mysteries at the heart of Christian tradition and who purifies the heart for their perennial reception in age after age.