There is a famous sculpture at a church in Indiana called “The descent of the spirit”. At first glance it seems abstract, but gazing into its hidden yet obvious beauty, the details of this amazing piece of art is a revealing of the entire cosmos and the very heart of the Divine. The top of the sculpture is a dove, which represents spirit. This dove seems to be descending and ascending at the same time from a Feminine figure that is giving birth. Seemingly its symbolic of the Divine Feminine that births all of creation into being.
Patriarchy has long been a dominant mindset in most cultures, ancient and modern. Even now, in scientifically advanced civilized western culture, we express all of the human race with the word mankind. With a few exceptions it has also basically caused the majorities mindset of the main characteristic of the Divine (God) in most religious thought to be male. We even see this in my tradition, the christian tradition, as much of the liturgy and most of our prayers start with “Our Father”. Now there is nothing wrong with thinking of the Divine as a male and especially as Father as the gospel writers reveal Jesus referenced God too, BUT the writers of the ancient text also reveal the same God as Feminine. We often forget that…
GOD TRANSCENDS GENDER
I know I know, this should be obvious and it’s easy to say but it still needs to be said. For the Divine to be God it must transcend gender completely. There are no boundaries, including sex, race, even religion that can hold God in some finite box. These are all metaphors to describe an indescribable God. As the gospel writer John says “God is spirit”. Or better yet “God is love”. So we must realize that all language we use for God is just metaphor but it’s all we’ve got and in these metaphors for the Divine we had better see that God is masculine but God is also Feminine.
God’s a woman, deal with it.
In the Scriptures we see the Divine Feminine riddled throughout the text.
“Then God said, let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness… So God made humans, in the image of God, and made them male AND female.” – Genesis 1:26-27
So whatever God is like, according to this text, the full image of God is male and female! How important is this when discussing woman in authority not only in vocation and everyday life but especially in the church!
Mothers are the nurturing heart of most families. When a child is hurt, it’s the mother a child cries for. It’s the mother a child pleads for in the middle of the night when a nightmare inevitably happens. It’s the mother who scolds the Father for telling the child to “suck it up” when the child bruises it’s knee and COMFORTS the child.
“As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; in Jerusalem you will be comforted.” – Isaiah 66:13
It’s a mother who protects a child from those that would harm it in times of danger. I dare you to mess with a woman’s child. Most moms I know would just as soon punch a 6 year old in the face for picking on their own 6 year old child. All boundaries are off when her child is hurt by another.
“Like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and tear them asunder…” – Hosea 13:8
It’s a mother who gives birth to life itself . A mother is a creator. A mother nourishes and supplies all the life needs in the womb. A mother supplies nourishment of milk to a new born and takes care of its every need. A mother is a representation of the Divine.
“Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” – Isaiah 49:15
“But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.” – Psalm 131:2
Even the word for compassion used numerous times in the Hebrew Bible (RHM see Deuteronomy 30:3) is a Feminine word that is essentially the same word used for a womb. (see Jeremiah 20:17), so when we see that God is compassionate, what we are really seeing is that God is WOMB LIKE.
When we think of the phrase “Born again”, we should remember that all creation starts in a womb, because that’s where all life starts. And the womb is a product of the feminine. Just as all life is a product of the Divine Feminine, just like we see from the amazing art featured in this blog.
In the 80’s Amy Grant hit the top of the charts with her song “El Shaddai“. This comes from the Bible of course as one of the words used to name God, often translated as “God Almighty”. There are many theories on the roots of this name but one is that it literally means “the many breasted one”, taken from “shadaim” being the word for breast used in Genesis 49:25 and Dai meaning “many” or “enough”. It definitely carries a feminine image of God and the first time it is used (Genesis 17:2) it denotes this Divine figure as multiplying the offspring of Abrahams descendants, just as a female nourishes and cares for the child in the womb, so El Shaddai does with the nation of Isreal.
God is our Mother.
I hope you see that the Divine, we call God, is just as much Feminine as it is masculine. A practice that I have put into my own prayer life, is replacing the word Father that is in prayer or liturgy for the word Mother. I’ll end with the the Lord’s prayer and psalm 23 using Feminine nouns, using this as a thought experiment for you.
“Our Mother who art in heaven, hollowed be your name
Bring in your kingdom so that your will is done on earth as it’s done in heaven.
Give us the bread we need for today. Liberate us for the ways we have wronged you, just as we also liberate those who have wronged us.
And don’t lead us into temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.
“If you liberate others of their sins, your heavenly Mother will also liberate you. But if you don’t liberate others, neither will your Mother liberate you from your sins.”
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
She makes me lie down in green pastures;
She leads me beside quiet waters.
She restores my soul;
She guides me in the paths of righteousness For Her name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”