The one of the soul, divine providence, and mystical union in Iamblichus
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Neoplatonist philosopher Iamblichus (ca. 242–ca. 325) believed that the human soul contains a component, called the One of the soul, that links human beings back to the highest level of divinity. Although Iamblichus holds that the entire soul is fully embodied, the One of the soul can act as if it were within the realm of Being rather than the realm of Becoming. Iamblichus also theorized a system of ritual and contemplative practice known as theurgy that was designed to divinize the practitioner by making the soul receptive to the providential grace of the gods. The role of the One of the soul in this process is pivotal but not adequately discussed in the scholarly literature. Through an investigation into the writings of Iamblichus, and building on the work of Crystal Addey, John Dillon, and Peter Struck, I analyze the means by, and extent to which, the One of the soul gives the theurgist access to divinity. I focus on moments of prophetic mystical union to argue that the One of the soul allows a person, in limited circumstances and with the aid of proper theurgic observance, to enact divine providence in ways that transcend human conceptions of time.