Proceeding through the three phases of the spiritual life
Purification is ongoing in our lives and characterized by repentance. During purification, we continually renounce the ‘old’ being and endeavor to become clothed with the ‘new’ being, in the Holy Spirit.
Illumination is characterized by “knowledge of beings, the theoria (vision) of the inner principles (logoi) of creation and participation in the Holy Spirit” (St. Nikitas Stithathos. In Met. Hierotheos, 2010, The illness and cure of the soul, p. 140). The process-outcome of illumination results in the purification of the darkened nous by divine grace, starting to ‘see’ with the heart, the eyes – the nous – of the soul; and birth within the nous of the Word of knowledge, the logos. After he has been illumined through grace, man “acquires knowledge of divine and human things and experiences the revelation of the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven” (ibid.), because he gains unceasing knowledge of the reality of God impressed deeply within the core of his being.
Deification results in man becoming a theologian in the veritable sense of the word, because he achieves theoria. At this phase of the spiritual life, man “communes with the angelic powers . . . approaches the uncreated Light and the depths of God are revealed to him through the Spirit. This man knows many things which are hidden from others, including mysteries that exist in Holy Scripture” (p. 141). When this phase commences, man is freed from the strictures of imagination, including images and fantasy.