|The Mirror of Simple Souls
This edition of The Mirror of the Simple Soul was originally published in 1927. At that time the author of the manuscript was unknown. It has since been attributed to Marguerite Porete, a French mystic. She was burnt at the stake for heresy in Paris in 1310 after a lengthy trial, after refusing to remove her book from circulation or recant her views.
The book is cited as one the primary texts of the medieval Heresy of the Free Spirit. Porete’s life is recorded only in accounts of her trial for heresy, at which she was condemned to be burnt at the stake. She is associated with the Beguine movement, and was therefore able to travel fairly freely. Until 1946, it was not even known that she was the writer of the Mirror, which had been published anonymously since her death.
The title of Porete’s book refers to the simple soul which is united with God and has no will other than His. Porete’s vision of the Soul is of ecstatic union with God, moving in a state of perpetual joy and peace. Porete argues that the Soul in such a sublime state is above the demands of ordinary virtue, not because virtue is not needed but because in its state of union with God virtue becomes automatic. As God can do no evil and cannot sin, the exalted/Annihilated soul, in perfect union with Him, no longer is capable of evil or sin.