Jump to content

The Divine Feminine


Yvonne
 Share

Recommended Posts

I recently started reading a book on feminism and the bible, though the content is much broader than some of the “feminist bible study” I've encountered before. The author (whose name I can't recall) makes some excellent points about educating women in the historical role of women in ancient religions and about some of the feminine symbols that the patriarchy of the traditional church has overlooked, downplayed, twisted, or simply ignored.

 

There have been, and I believe still are, goddess cults (not using cult in the modern derogatory meaning). The book talks about the Shekinah or Sophia as the Wisdom of God being feminine. I have, since my 20's, always accepted Wisdom (as in God's Wisdom) begin feminine.

 

What are your thoughts on the Divine Feminine?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Disclaimer - I am male.

 

Whilst we generally assign people a gender based on the physiology of their genitals, I would say that many of the 'qualities' generally assigned to either sex can be seen in either male or female simulatenously. We can have women who are strong leaders, who are more physical than many men, who perhaps enjoy more 'male' associated lines of work, yet of course they are still a woman. Similarly we have men (i.e. human beings who have a p&nis instead of a vagina) who display or better fit those roles we more traditionally associate with women - stay at home Dads, men who maybe sew or knit, men who are as gentle and caring as the most gentle and caring woman.

 

I guess when people are talking about the Divine Feminine as God they are considering the mothering traits of God, the child-raising/child-care side of God, etc. God as a man usually pertains to God being strong, a defender of his children, a King and General of his people, etc.

 

It would seem to me that a lot of people today talk about God as having traits from both sides of the fence. Doesn't even the NT say that in Christ there is no male or female?

 

So perhaps God is simply genderless - neither divinely male nor divinely female. Perhaps entertaining notions of gender help people relate to such a God though and makes it more meaningful to them - much like Bishop Spong's analogy of if ever horses think of God, they probably think of a God who looks like a horse.

 

Cheers

Paul

Edited by PaulS
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The book talks about the Shekinah or Sophia as the Wisdom of God being feminine.

 

Yvonne,

 

I have no problem, or worthwhile thoughts, about the idea of "Divine Feminine."

 

However, I think too much is made of the feminine gender of Greek sophia and Hebrew hokmah 'wisdom' (and the same for ru'ach 'spirit') Hebrew has only masculine and feminine genders which, unlike English, are just grammatical and do not signal the sex of the noun. Although Greek does have a neuter gender, I understand that Greek gender does not correspond to the sex of the object (e.g., a door is feminine and a wall masculine).

 

When an English speaker hears or reads 'she' we instinctively think female in a biological sense (or metaphorically). When a Hebrew or Greek speaking person hears the same, there is no biological association made.

 

George

Link to comment
Share on other sites

FWIW, I am convinced that the Jews in biblical times thought of god in anthropomorphic terms and as male. God is often portrayed in male/masculine roles: father, warrior, king, etc. However, I don't think we are obligated to continue to think in these terms.

 

George

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Perhaps entertaining notions of gender help people relate to such a God though and makes it more meaningful to them - much like Bishop Spong's analogy of if ever horses think of God, they probably think of a God who looks like a horse.

 

Paul,

 

A problem with Bishop Spong's analogy is that not all humans have, or still do, think of God as having human form. Animists, as an example, found God in non-human forms (rocks, trees, etc.). So, if he had said "if some horses think . . ." he would be on firmer ground.

 

George

Link to comment
Share on other sites

George,

 

I think his point was more that horses, like Animists, would still imagine God in a form they are familiar with - whether it be an old man on a throne, a caring mother cuddling creation, a horse, or rocks, trees etc.

 

Of cousre it makes sense that we can't imagine God as anything other than what we are familiar with - we can't imagine what we don't know I guess.

 

Cheers

Paul

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yvonne,

 

Not surprisingly(!), my thoughts on the Divine Feminine are deeply influenced by what I have found written in the Urantia Papers. I will offer my interpretation of what they have to say regarding your question.

 

When we speak of Trinity (tripartite existential Deity), anthropomorphic gender terms are clearly inadequate. The Urantia Papers, after informing us of these three Paradise eternal Sources and Centers, go on to describe Deity personalities and relationships which are directly involved in the manifestation of time-space/mindal-material realities. The evolutionary “grand universe” of time-space is revealed to have been originated/manifested through the Seven Master Spirits, divine offspring of the Paradise Trinity, of whom gender designation would likewise be misconceived.

 

Only when we learn about the creation of the “local” universes - evolutionary subdivisions of the inhabited seven superuniverses (each associated with one of the Master Spirits) - do we encounter what we might recognize as a gender differentiation of Deity. According to the authors, these vast cosmological/geographical areas of creation are the partnership domains of Creator Sons and their associated Creative Daughters, also called universe Creative Spirits.

 

UP 17: Section 6 – THE LOCAL UNIVERSE CREATIVE SPIRITS contains material which describes the “initial Paradise differentiation” of these Creative Daughters, as well as further phases of the careers of the local universe “Mother Spirit(s)”. There is also preliminary information regarding their mind ministry in UP 17:7.

 

In UPaper 34 – THE LOCAL UNIVERSE MOTHER SPIRIT, the authors go into a deeper explanation of the nature and ministry of these “feminine” Deity personalizations. Perhaps some PCers will discern value and gain insights from these presentations.

 

Loving service,

Brent

Link to comment
Share on other sites

George,

 

I think his point was more that horses, like Animists, would still imagine God in a form they are familiar with - whether it be an old man on a throne, a caring mother cuddling creation, a horse, or rocks, trees etc.

 

But animists don't think of God in anthropomorphic terms. Their gods are trees, animals, clouds, stones, etc. Yes, these are familiar things so horses could well (if they were to imagine) imagine god(s) as apples, young girls, hay and the like - but not necessarily a horse.

 

George

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Brent,

 

At first glance, the fact that the Seven Master Spirts are offspring of the Paradise Trinity, suggests that the Paradise Trinity must have some sort of gender orientation to in fact prodcue offspring. I presume that won't be the case, so I wonder if you could explain how you or the UP might explain the process of the Pardise Trinity creating offspring, i.e. just how did it/they produce offspring?

 

Cheers

Paul

Link to comment
Share on other sites

But animists don't think of God in anthropomorphic terms.

George

 

Neither would horses presumably.

 

Spong's point is that everyone who believes in God imagines that God as something they can relate to. I think his point is that he thinks a picture of what/who God is, is beyond our imagination.

 

In the animists case it is the objects and reality around them. In the horses case, well, maybe one day we'll find out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Paul,

 

Simply put, within the bounds of that which is consistent with the Divine nature, the triune Paradise Source(s) and Center(s) have no limitations regarding their ability to create/originate.

 

UPaper 16 – THE SEVEN MASTER SPIRITS, Section 0, paragraph 3 states: “We know very little about the action of the (Universal) Father and the (Eternal) Son in the creation of the Master Spirits. Apparently they were brought into existence by the personal acts of the Infinite Spirit, but we have been definitely instructed that both the Father and the Son participated in their origin.” (parens mine)

 

Again, I would regard ascribing literal anthropomorphic gender attributes to the eternal uncreated triune Persons of Godhead as a counterprogressive distraction. For those so inclined, deeper understanding may be had through study of UPapers 1 through 16 (see: Table of Contents).

 

Progressive loving service,

Brent

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Brent,

 

It just seems like so much gobbledydook to me, but this isn't a 'debate the Urantia Papers thread' so I won't debate the point. That said, I have not looked into the papers like you, and I respect that they mean a lot to you personally.

 

However in relation to this thread (actually probably more in relation to my brief hijacking it concerning concepts of God rather than just the Divine Feminine - sorry Yvonne), it strikes me that even the UP's still come up with a concept that is familiar to human beings, i.e creation of offspring via parental figures. Sure there's the mystery of not knowing just exactly how the Father & the Son created the Master Spirits, but still there's that familiar human connotation that they 'created' something in a way unknown but somehow familiar to us at the same time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yvonne,

 

In a further effort to relate what I’ve read in the UPapers to this thread’s focus on the Divine Feminine, I’ve learned that while the Creator Sons (Michael of Nebadon/Jesus of Nazareth being of this order) and Creative Daughters “collaborate in the creation of a large number of Sons and other universe personalities”, the Universe Mother Spirit also engages in solitary efforts at spirit reproduction: “Thus begins the creation of the seraphic (angelic) hosts of a local universe.” (parens mine; see 38:1 – ORIGIN OF SERAPHIM)

 

In good spirit,

Brent

 

ps. Paul, your perception of "gobbledydook" is not uncommon at all, no offense taken.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The construct of masculine and feminine traits is merely a human construction. What was considered masculine thousands of years ago, is considered feminine today. Thus if they are ever employed as a metaphor for the Sacred, we should always remember they are our lens to view God, not any aspect of God, Himself/Herself/Itself.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The construct of masculine and feminine traits is merely a human construction.

 

I don't agree with "merely." Yes, a human construction, but out of a biological reality. The maleness/femaleness behavior of bears or peacocks is not social construction. Dimorphism and different hormones are not socially created.

 

George

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What are your thoughts on the Divine Feminine?

 

I think Feminism is important, but the divine unnecessary.

 

In fact, given the fact that religious ideology is one of the last remaining major stumbling blocks for feminism to hurdle in the 21st Century CE, I'd say the divine should be avoided at all costs.

 

NORM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

FWIW, I am convinced that the Jews in biblical times thought of god in anthropomorphic terms and as male. God is often portrayed in male/masculine roles: father, warrior, king, etc. However, I don't think we are obligated to continue to think in these terms.

 

George

There is actually archealogical evidence that the ancient Israelites were originally polytheiststic pagans from Canaan who worshiped both male and female deities. Biblical archealogicalists have found pottery of the ancient goddess Asheraha that belonged to the Israelites and this pottery indicates the Israelites saw Asherah as Yahweh's wife. Even in the final version of the OT, evidence still survives in the scriptures themselves that the Israelites worshiped Asherah and various scriptures refer to her as the Queen of Heaven. So the ancient Israelites may have believed Yahweh had masculine attributes, but there's also a great deal of evidence showing they worshiped female deities and belief in a single male deity was a later development in their history. Karen Armstrong discusses this in her book, A History of God.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1

Certainly there is evidence of the struggle from polytheism to monotheism in the Hebrew Bible. The worship reforms of Hezekiah and Josiah and the struggle to centralize worship in Jerusalem were efforts to focus on a single God for the Israelites and then finally a single God for the universe - through the lens of the males in power.

He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. 2 Kings 18:4

Hezekiah wanted to eliminate not only the Asherah (wife of God?) poles but also the bronze snake which is part of the Exodus story. In his mind they were both idols and obscured a clear focus on the one and only God - on which English seems to force a gender designation.

 

2

some of my prayer/meditation addresses a feminine other.

 

3

This takes my breath away when I read it.

 

Endlessly creating

Endlessly pulsating

The Spirit of the Valley never dies

She is called the Hidden Creator

 

Although She becomes the whole universe her immaculate purity is never lost

Although She assumes countless forms her true identity remains intact

Whatever we see or don't see

Whatever exists or doesn't exist

Is nothing but the creation of this Supreme Power

 

Tao is limitless, unborn, eternal--It can only be reached though the Hidden Creator

She is the very face of the Absolute

The gate to the source of all things eternal

 

Listen to her voice; hear it echo through creation

Without fail, She reveals her presence

Without fail, She brings us to our own perfection

 

The Tao Te Ching

Chapter 6 translated by Jonathan Star.

 

Take Care

 

Dutch

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been reading Reclaiming Spirituality by Diarmud O Murchu and he has a chapter devoted to this topic, chapter 7 - Reclaiming the Femanine Heart. His position is that we had a much more even playing field in the 70,000 years prior to montheism and the patriarchal religions. In that rather lengthy peiord prior to the agricultural revolution and subsequent development of monotheism, Earth Mother was the predominant philosophy/religion and our existence related to nature and the animals we shared the planet with, not our need to have power and control over these things as has been witnessed through patriarchal religion. The need for power and control is a male streak relating to our evolutionary drives, however it is quite destructive on a large scale without some parameters.

 

Diarmud quotes Caitlin Matthews as saying:

 

"We in the West are haunted by the loss of our Mother".

 

Paul

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At one point in my past I was associated with a group of very progressive, liberal nuns (yes, there are such!). One of them had a beautiful plague with a woman holding a child. The way the paiinting was done, it gave a sense of being brought into the world, being nurtured. The writing said "And Woman said "This is my body".

 

That has always touched me. I'm not one to associate a gender with God, but I think, in using imagery and symbols, it is important to keep ideas like this in mind. God brings us to life and nurtures us. Since I believe we literally "live in God", it's like a foetus lives in its mother. I love the imagery in the sacred feminine. And not just because I'm a woman! I think the imagery can be very beautiful and moving for anyone. Even in the RC church, so male dominated, Mary has very nearly become a sign of the sacred feminine. In the movie "Mists of Avalon", at the end, the priestess of the goddess temple, wihch is losing its identity in the wake of Christianity, points out that the goddess will never be forgotten as the scene depicts the nuns at the nearby abbey paying homage to Mary. I think it is vital that those who choose sacred imagery and symbols incorporate the feminine.

 

The book of Wisdom often describes Wisdom as "she".

 

Dutch, that poem/prayer really touched me.

 

The discussion isn't quite what I expected it would be! I'm quite surprised that as yet no other women have offered any comments.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It seems to me that thinking of God as only feminine is just as wrong as thinking of God as only masculine.

 

 

 

Spong is right that we tend to view divine through our own eyes.

 

Steve

 

We are our only frame of reference for thinking about the Divine so I suppose this is a natural consequence. I would argue that Native Americans prior to the arrival of settlers could be an example of people living in small groups, in tune with themselves and their environment (re. the Earth Mother post I mentioned previously).

 

Paul

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It seems to me that thinking of God as only feminine is just as wrong as thinking of God as only masculine.

 

 

 

Spong is right that we tend to view divine through our own eyes.

 

Steve

 

I don't think anyone said anything about thinking of God as only feminine. What I'm saying is that, in using imagery or even metaphorical language, that it is acceptable and even, sometimes, even preferable, to use feminine language and imagery.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not very fond of dichotomies, as I have hoped to make clear. These days I doubt whether God created dichotomies (dualities). I am more in line with the development (evolution) of human thought that makes an effort to transcend past limitations of human generated dualities and progress into a view of reality that uses these same dualities to launch us into the future.

 

I am also associated here with Whitehead and Process Thought. I would say that process (evolution) has two components. One is conservative in that it "pulls" us back into the past. The other is progressive in that it "lures" us into the future.

 

A wise God would not dismiss half of Her Creation.

  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

terms of service