Dec 062012
 

Take notice that this is a meditation, and not a neatly linear exposition on these matters. If you manage to bear with me, we’re going to loop around and through various points, with little concern for being tangential and repetitive. It’s going to be downright scattered! I wouldn’t blame you if you don’t finish. Still, there is a method to this madness.

Last year I began my Advent meditation by putting myself in the place of Mary and Joseph on the road to Bethlehem. In fact, for many years now my heart and mind have increasingly been drawn to them, and especially to Mary, during the Advent and Christmas season. As some of you know, I adhere to a Sophianic tradition of Christianity. In short, Mary is venerated as not only the Mother of Christ, Vessel of the Holy Spirit, but also as an embodiment of Sophia, the Wisdom of God. This identity parallels that of Jesus being venerated as an embodiment of Logos, the Word or Reason of God. (For many Christians, even Sophianic ones, it is considered heresy to connect Mary and Sophia in this way.) In this year’s Advent meditation, I want to share more of my exploration of some of these issues.

As with Christologies and theologies, there are differences from one Sophiology or Mariology to another in how we conceptualize the nature of Sophia and Mary’s relationship with Sophia. For some Sophianic Christians, including me, Sophia is regarded as the personification of the Holy Spirit. In other words, just as we refer to the Creator as Abba, Father, the First Person of the Trinity, and to the Logos as Christ, the Son and Second Person of the Trinity, so we also refer to the Holy Spirit as Sophia, Wisdom, the Mother, the Third Person of the Trinity. Relating to Sophia, the Holy Spirit, in feminine terms follows the traditional language in canonical books such as Proverbs and The Wisdom of Solomon. There are also statements in the New Testament referring to Wisdom as ‘her’. ‘Sophia’ is actually Greek for wisdom, and the word is feminine in gender and a popular name for females.

There are many directions we could go from here, but I want to focus on the significance I find in relating to God not only as masculine, but also as feminine. In my view, the Western world has developed unhealthy psychological and sociological imbalances by relating to God almost exclusively in masculine images and terms, and we need to redress those imbalances. But, honestly, it was not awareness of these cultural imbalances that led me to ponder the Divine Feminine, but rather awareness of something missing in my own experience. I realized that if part of my religious experience is relating to God in an anthropomorphic way, as seems so perfectly natural to do, then to do so without including the feminine would be something significantly less than the wholeness I feel moved to experience and express.

In relating to God through feminine personifications (such as Mother, Queen, Sister, Midwife, Bride), I must acknowledge that I actually engage in a little gender stereotyping. This approach might seem counterproductive in some ways, and it certainly has the potential to become divisive if we don’t first lay a thoughtful foundation, but I also think it is unavoidable.I also want to strongly affirm that there is only One Supreme Being — God transcending gender and also manifesting all gender possibilities. What I am talking about here is really nothing more than a variation of Trinitarian theology.

In continuing this meditation, it would seem helpful to have a sense of what we mean by the terms ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’. One problem that could arise here is bogging down in a detailed and eternal analysis of this polarity, with lots of quibbling over semantics and differences of perspective. But gender norms are not merely a product of our conscious thinking, personal experiences, and cultural influences, for there are unconscious and perhaps metaphysical factors involved. For example,  archetypes, in the Platonic and Jungian senses, are like psychological and metaphysical blueprints that exist prior to our conceptualizations of them, and perhaps the most fundamental manifestation of gender archetypes are the typical anatomical and neurochemical differences between males and females. The fact that such powerful factors contribute to gender norms tells us that, no matter how we consciously choose to relate to them, we are each bound to have certain basic, even instinctive, reactions to and attitudes about different genders.

So, keeping in mind that the intention is to move toward wholeness, counterbalancing the masculine forms imposed on our images and concepts of God, the objective is to consciously relate to God through feminine forms as well.  All the while, let’s proceed with the understanding that we are working with dualistic symbolism as a means of experiencing and expressing more of the diversity within the Unity of God. Therefore, rather than using this meditation to list a bunch of qualities associated with the masculine and the feminine, I would encourage everyone to proceed with a less analytical understanding of these polarities, simply allowing our own natural ‘gut-level’ tendencies to begin directing our thoughts and feelings. By observing our own tendencies, we will gain awareness of our personal and cultural biases, and I believe we get closer to wholeness in our understanding of not only ourselves but of our relationships with God. The symbolism, and thus the collective psychology, of mainstream Christianity is largely patriarchical, referring directly to two of the Three Persons of the Trinity in masculine terms – the Father and the Son. Even the Holy Spirit is sometimes addressed as ‘he’ in the New Testament. While most Christians are very accustomed to this, it is nonetheless an imbalanced way of thinking about and relating to God. Mainstream Catholic and Orthodox Christianity has made some room for connecting with Spirit in a feminine form through its veneration of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as an immaculate soul, untainted by sin, who was united with the Holy Spirit. Having been impregnated by the Holy Spirit and having given birth to the Incarnation of the Son, she is intimately connected with the Trinity for all who revere her, whether in heresy or otherwise.

Hear and feel the wonder, adoration, and devotion in these excerpts from traditional Catholic prayers to Mary, the Rosa Mystica:

Maria, Rosa Mystica, fragrant rose of mysticism, wonderful flower of divine knowledge, of purity and blinding beauty, of brilliant, shining glory, of power and overwhelmingly blessing love: we kneel before you to pray, to look, to listen; to look at you and inhale your heavenly perfume until we have, above all, taken something of your immaculate, pure, and perfect being into our inner selves…. Maria Rosa Mystica – Mystical Rose, Immaculate Conception – Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ – Mother of Grace – Mother of the Mystical Body, of the Church… You came down on earth to call upon us children of this earth to love each other, to unite, and live in peace.

There have also been Christian saints who have spoken directly of the Divine in feminine terms. In her discourse entitled “The Revelations of Divine Love”, the anchoress Julian of Norwich (1342-1416) actually speaks of each of the Three Persons of the Trinity in feminine and masculine terms, often in the same sentence. For example:

God All Power is our natural Father, and God All Wisdom is our natural Mother, with the Love and the Goodness of the Holy Spirit — who is all one God, one Lord.

As noted at the beginning of this meditation, the tradition of identifying the feminine aspect of God with Divine Wisdom is ancient. About 200-250 years before Julian, the great poet and composer St. Hildegard of Bingen wrote this praise to Sophia:

Sophia! You of the whirling wings, circling, encompassing energy of God: you quicken the world in your clasp. One wing soars in heaven, one wing sweeps the earth, and the third flies all around us. Praise to Sophia! Let all the earth praise her!

Orthodox and Gnostic Christianity also traditionally venerate Sophia (not to be confused with St. Sophia) as the Divine Wisdom praised in the book of Proverbs in a clearly feminine way:

Blessed is the man that findeth wisdom, and is rich in prudence. The purchasing thereof is better than the merchandise of silver, and her fruit than the chief and purest gold. She is more precious than all riches: and all the things that are desired, are not to be compared to her. Length of days is in her right hand, and in her left hand riches and glory. Her ways are beautiful ways, and all her paths are peaceable. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold on her, and he that shall retain her is blessed. Proverbs 3:13-18

Sophianic Christians often identify Sophia with the Shekinah of Judaism. Shekinah is the Presence of God said to have manifested as the pillar of flame above the Ark of the Covenant. She is the Spirit of God that moved upon the face of the waters in Genesis 1:2. Shekinah is also venerated in Judaism as the Sabbath Queen or Sabbath Bride, the special Presence of the Spirit of God that should be remembered, welcomed, and cherished on the Sabbath. With regard to Judaism, there are also schools of Kabbalah that teach God’s first gender expression is not masculine, but feminine. The view is that, prior to creation, all that ‘exists’ is God, and there are no dualities, no differences, no ‘parts’, just God in God’s Perfect Infinite and Eternal Unity. Then, in order for there to be something different, something that could conceive of itself as apart from God, God willed a space within Godself that was then empty of God. This movement was creation of the heaven and earth duality spoken of in Genesis 1:1, and the earth “was without form and void”. In effect, God first created a womb within Godself, and thereby God’s femininity was manifest. It is only after this, when God injects God’s essence, ‘Light’ (Gen. 1:3), into this womb that God’s masculinity is expressed. A Gnostic poem from the earliest centuries of Christianity (2nd or 3rd century), “Thunder Perfect Mind”, presents the Divine speaking of Itself in feminine terms:

For I am the first and the last. I am the honored one and the scorned one. I am the whore and the holy one. I am the wife and the virgin. I am the mother and the daughter. I am the members of my mother. I am the barren one and many are her sons. I am she whose wedding is great, and I have not taken a husband. I am the midwife and she who does not bear. I am the solace of my labor pains. I am the bride and the bridegroom, and it is my husband who begot me. I am the mother of my father and the sister of my husband and he is my offspring.

It should be clear that when Jews and Christians revere the Divine Feminine we are not worshipping a goddess over and above God, but simply adoring certain attributes of the One God that we can instinctively relate to as feminine in character. This practice is strange and difficult for some folks, especially mainstream Protestant Christians who are taught to think exclusively of God as masculine. I can relate! For a very long time, even long after beginning my mystical studies and practice, I just didn’t like all this stuff about the Divine Feminine. My attitude was that if my highest concept of God transcended gender, then that’s the way I should always think and talk about God. Yet, I’ve come to know that, at least for me, this view was too narrow, too incomplete and, ironically, too dualistic. In my current philosophy (philo-sophia = love of wisdom!), my relationship with the Holy Spirit through a feminine personification is quite powerful in all ways, not just intellectually, but emotionally, physically, and transcendentally. The latter simply cannot be spoken of, yet it stimulates the other kinds of experience and expression in my love affair with God. And those words “love affair” are quite literal. While contemplating the Divine Feminine at first brought me into the more common experience of God as Mother or Queen, quite unexpectedly She also called me into a sacred romance with Her as Lover and Bride. This romance has been expressed in mystical love poems since November of 2006, when I wrote Deep Within the Well of this Heart. I had written previous poems of adoration and devotion to God in masculine and gender-neutral terms, but this was the first time I actually addressed God as ‘lover’, and it was a genuine expression of an opening and liberation of my heart that occurred in contemplation of Her. Since then, many of my poems have been even more overtly addressed to Her and romantic in tone, such as in Queen of Spirits. My hope is that poems like these might help open other hearts to Her as mine has been.

There is so much more that could be said about how the Divine Feminine shows up throughout the history of Christianity, both exoterically and esoterically. This post is by no means an attempt to do the topic justice, but merely to provide an introduction to it that helps raise some possibilities during this season in which Mary has such a central role.

And now I will end this meditation with one of the oldest (c. 250 AD) and most widely used prayers in Orthodox Christianity, the Sub tuum Praesidium:

Under thy compassion we take refuge, Mother of God; do not disregard our prayers in the midst of tribulation, but deliver us from danger, O Only Pure, Only Blessed One. Amen.

Agape

  17 Responses to “2012 Advent Meditation: Mary, Sophia, and the Divine Feminine”

  1. Hi Chuck,

    I liked your post and I’m definitely going to have to read it again. I consider myself Protestant, and I don’t fully understand or agree with the veneration of Mary. It’s more of a personal belief and I don’t have a problem with Catholics who think differently. If I did, I wouldn’t be on this website and wouldn’t be reading so many things written by Catholics (especially St. Teresa de Avila). Also, a lot of what you said makes a lot of sense.

    I tend to think of God more as a male. Yes, I grew up in church hearing God being referred to as “He”. I’ve been a Christian since very young, and was always a daddy’s girl. When I was 16, my dad moved away with some woman he met at a truck stop and I’ve only seen him twice since. For me, God was always a father to me (and at times best friend), and when older the father figure I no longer had. I can also completely relate to your description of God as a “lover”, which again being a female, it’s much easier for me to relate to God as a male.

    I agree that the Holy Spirit does tend to have more female type characteristics. I think Genesis really shows God as both male and female. Genesis 1:27 (NIV) “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

    I really liked reading Proverbs 3:13-18. I never thought of the Holy Spirit as the “wisdom” in those verses. I never really spent much time meditating or thinking about the verses, but I always took them more literally (person who becomes wise in following ways of & knowing God). Putting Holy Spirit as the “wisdom” in the verses totally makes more sense. Now I’m motivated to read Proverbs again (much more slowly this time).

    Thanks for a great post. I’ll definitely read it again.

    Blessings
    Chandra

  2. Hi Chandra,

    Thanks for your kind words and your tolerance of differing views. 🙂 I’m very happy you were able to find something of value to you. Feel free to toss the rest!

    I do understand the Protestant objections to venerating Mary. I was raised as a very active Methodist. All I can say is that this was just another one of those anomalies 😉 that shook me, and in a very positive way. I know it’s not for everyone.

    Your words about being able to relate to God as masculine and lover are significant to me. After I started talking about relating to God as feminine and lover, I discovered that it is apparently not highly unusual for heterosexual women to have an occasional romantic dream, and in some cases even conscious thoughts and feelings, about Jesus. My guess is that this is also true for some gay men. My point here is that this is evidence of one way our hyper-patriarchal view of God has deprived some of us of a very deep, powerful, rewarding, and more holistic way of relating to God. I’m also absolutely sure that it’s strongly intertwined with Christianity’s prevailing negativity toward eros.

    While I’m here, Chandra, would you be surprised to know that, of all the doctrinal and dogmatic lines I publicly cross, my rejection of a solely masculine image of God and my veneration of Mary have received far more negative responses than anything else. Apparently, these things are much touchier than issues like whether or not the Bible is inerrant, whether or not Jesus was the only incarnation of the Logos, and whether or not it’s necessary to be a Christian to enter Heaven. Seriously, it’s something like three times the number of negative comments on all other issues combined! I find that very interesting, very thought-provoking and, perhaps, very telling.

    Anyway, thanks again for your reflections. 🙂

    Agape,
    Chuck

    PS Since you are interested in thinking of the Holy Spirit as Wisdom, Sophia, you might find this interesting: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs%208:12,%2022-31&version=NIV

  3. Thanks for sharing your Advent meditation with us, Chuck. My own views are similar. I too venerate Mary, who I refer to as Theotokus (Orthodox at heart I guess). It helps me keeps things balanced, and sometimes it’s just more fun to hang out with the ladies! I do this personal veneration in secret though. I don’t think I could bear all of the “tolerance” I know is going to come my way.

    Tolerance is an odd little virtue isn’t it? It’s a bit conditional, like acceptance without the love and compassion. It kind of says, “Look, I think you are wrong, actually I “know” that you are wrong, but I’m going to allow you to exist in my universe anyway”. I think I prefer to pass on that virtue. It tips the scales in favor of the one who is “right”.

    Peace.
    Steve

    • Hi Steve,

      Yes, I think I understand about using ‘Theotokos.’ That secrecy thing you mentioned isn’t unusual. Veneration of the ‘God-Birther’ has long been part of the lesser-known practices in various Catholic and Orthodox monastic communities and religious orders. It’s virtually an esoteric initiatory tradition within the Church.

      On ‘tolerance,’ I hear you loud and clear, and so I must say it was probably a poor choice of words in my response to Chandra. More positive words are ‘welcoming’, ‘acceptance’, and even more so is ‘affirming.’ It may not always seem so, but being welcoming, accepting, and affirming without agreeing is possible.

      Agape,
      Chuck

  4. Like Chandra, I hail form the Protestant side of things and I haven’t had the privilege of fully absorbing the rich heritage of the Catholic faith. But even a blind dog can find meat on this bone. I can relate to your idea of exploring the Divine Feminine as a way of liberation within your own heart.

    Hmm, I hope I can wordsmith this in a way that is easily understood. As I grow in my own personal awareness of what thoughts actually produce the “opening” or “liberation” that is felt on the heart level, I too find myself drawn to concepts of God as liberating meditations. I haven’t been lead to the Devine Feminine (yet) and perhaps I shouldn’t share that one of my favorite resources for this practice is Al-Ghazali on the Ninety-nine Beautiful Names of God, oops too late. Blame it on the red pill 😉

    Thanks for sharing,
    -Gregory

  5. Hi Chuck,

    Very enlightening. Sophia is such a beautiful name and when I first came across your profile I researched it out quite a bit. I’m so glad you took the time to expound even more.

    As I continue on the site and having never read any of the mystical literature prior, I find terms that I use in my writings have already been stated somewhere down the line in history and I am always astounded to the point it is like some sort of Jungian psychological archetype that I’ve tapped into. Such is the case with expressions I’ve stated: “The lover of our souls”, “seeking a greater intimacy with the One”, “my companion” etc. which have a quality within my spiritual sphere which I’ve tried to communicate as somewhat of a gender free transcendence as you mentioned God being of such a nature.

    Even though I express quite fully the masculine nature of God, I am quite keen on a feminine quality as well.

    One of the most profound statements I find Jesus making is:

    Matthew 22: 29-30 Amplified
    But Jesus replied to them, You are wrong because you know neither the Scriptures nor God’s power.

    For in the resurrected state neither do [men] marry nor are [women] given in marriage, but they are like the angels in heaven.

    So, just how are the angels in heaven?

    Peace
    Fred

  6. I received from the post and confirmation that meditation during Advent is an opportunity to delve further into our communique with God, Mary and the saints. The Jesus Prayer came to mind from “The Way of the Pilgrim”, the stories told by an anonymous 19th century Russian on prayer and meditation. And that leads to the Eastern Christian texts of the Philokalia; the Mary references there I will weigh with your base idea to see any correlation. I think there might be.

    Next, I always viewed the Holy Spirit as genderless and Mary being influenced by the Holy Spirit, but the idea they are closer than two separate identities and that the Holy Spirit takes on the feminine gender is interesting and a topic for personal contemplation.

    This brings me to the Legion of Mary group, every parish seems to have one, and I remember hearing about Sophia, while I attended several of their meetings. Is anyone aware of this group and the views presented in this post? Maybe a match. They take it a step further and go into the community service aspect (praying the rosary) in being a Mary promoter.

    Finally, there is a lot of thought in these posts to be digested for a typical reader, who is flying at the speed of sound through the Catholic blog world. This blog makes you rethink, maybe renew is a better word, spiritual concepts. The author might consider creating an ebook summarizing the content in this blog. It would be interesting to see the ebook written live.

    Respect.

    • Thank you, David, for the reflections and encouragement.

      The views I’ve presented here are outgrowths of longstanding traditional views in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox (especially Russian Orthodox) Churches, where Mary is regarded as Mediatrix and often even Co-Redemptrix. I have found my own thinking quite similar to that of Fr. Sergei Bulgakov (on many issues, in fact), who held that Mary was joined in hypostatic union with the Holy Spirit, and remained so, from the moment of Jesus’ conception in her womb. Bulgakov was accused of heresy, but a bishop’s conference ultimately decided that he was mistaken but not actually heretical. St. Louis de Montfort’s views on Mary are similar but not as daring, in that he regarded Mary as a “visible image” of the Holy Spirit. His work was very influential on the founding of the Legion of Mary. Pope John Paul II was so impressed with those views that he later said of them, “Then I understood that I could not exclude the Lord’s Mother from my life without neglecting the will of God-Trinity, who willed to begin and fulfill the great mysteries of the history of salvation with the responsible and faithful collaboration of the humble handmaid of Nazareth.”

      There is a growing body of clergy, theologians, and laypersons who believe our understanding in these matters is actually being led by the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Church is still developing in awareness and understanding of the revelation of God’s will through the lives of Jesus and Mary. This thought may be pleasing to some of us, but it is not very welcomed by those of us who want to believe everything of value was already figured out and settled long ago by a particular group of theologians.

      I deeply appreciate your understanding of this blog’s aims by highlighting the word ‘renew’. Well informed and clear thinking is very important to me, but if it does not ultimately facilitate coming to greater awareness of one’s immediate relationship with God, which is to say with Love, and thereby throw open the doors of the heart, then the mark is being missed.

      Agape,
      Chuck

  7. Hi Chuck,

    I have heard and read claims that while God is “focused” on the redemption and perfection of human nature, of which we are all a part, Mary’s concern with us is as individual “persons”. It is through Mary that we are “recognized” as particulars rather than a universal. Perhaps this would account for the rather large devotion to Mary in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

    For many years I felt that devotion to Mary was a silly supertition. Still, I have heard some amazing testimonies of Mary working in the lives of people, and then I decided to do a little “experimentation” of my own. What resulted for me was a definite “sense of presence” after praying to Mary. Although I have never asked for any special favors or material “stuff”, I have asked for understanding and realization. In some cases this has been received quite quickly. In other cases I seem to “understand” that this is something I’m not yet ready to know. Apparently these are things of a more gradual nature, to be realized through a process.

    I’m not suggesting anyone “betray” their own belief systems to “experiment” as I have done. I’m just sayin’!

    Peace.
    Steve

    • Steve,

      Thank you for sharing more of your experience with Mary. She does indeed seem to be more personally accessible for and responsive to many of us. Like you, I have received a few graces through this particular expression of God’s love.

      Agape,
      Chuck

  8. Thank you, Chuck!

    The Holy Spirit is deeply feminine to me. I see Her nature all over the Bible and I also experience Her within my own life as mostly feminine. So I feel rude referring to Her as “He” or “Him,” but I know that many readers wouldn’t understand when I refer to “Her.” So what do I usually do? Keep repeating the “Spirit” without using pronouns! Now, with your post, maybe I can link my “Her” and “She” pronouns to your blog post! Or, perhaps, if “She” catches on here at ChristianMystics, I’ll finally be free to use pronouns . . . 😉

    Thanks and blessings,
    Karina

  9. It is 1.00 am and I have a cold and therefore unable to sleep so what better time to quietly read this Advent Meditation. Thank you, Chuck, for sharing your contemplation.

    Some time ago I came across this – unfortunately I do not know the Author so may be posting it without permission. It is a lengthy piece of prose but it was the first time I was able to track the gender issues. I had decided from my early years the God must be genderless. It was time to rethink. This tract is somewhat shocking and does not explain the ‘void without form’ in the OT or anything like that at all. It was written for mothers before the advent of Mothers’ Day.

    “…I would like to remind the women and men of the time when the female, the nurturing mother, the Goddess, was supreme until finally being replaced by the male God of war and the sword.

    This bears repeating today for the educational, historical and literacy value as well as the relevance of it for our own time. I am repeating it for all of those women and mothers who may not be aware of their historical and spiritual legacy.

    In primal times there was only the forces of nature and the unknown power behind it all. Gradually there evolved the concept of a Supreme Being, a female, a She, a Goddess, who created the Universe and all of its laws. She was the ruler of Nature, Fate, Time, Eternity, Truth, Wisdom, Justice, Love, Birth and Death. And so for 25,000 years there was only the Goddess. Yes, that is 25,000 years. The earliest agriculture grew up around the shrines of the Mother Goddess and became social and economic centers as well as holy places that were the germs of future cities. Growing cities evolved around these sacred centers, built to honor the Divine Mothers, the Mother Goddess, the Creatress of all of life.

    The poet and religious historian Robert Graves put it in these words: “The whole of neolithic Europe had a remarkably homogeneous system of religious ideas based on the Mother Goddess.” The Great Goddess was regarded as immortal, changeless and omnipotent. The concept of a Father God was unknown in religious thought. In Europe, the Great Goddess was thought of as the sole omnipotent deity. Fatherhood was not even a part of religious thinking.” In EGYPT, she was: “The Being, eternal and infinite, the creative and ruling power of heaven and earth and of every creature and every thing in them. Mother Goddess, She commands the entire universe.” In INDIA, it was the Great Goddess who gave birth to the Vedas, day and night, the seasons and all the measures of time, death and memory. Root words for motherhood produced many words of calculation, metric, mark, mentality, geometry, trigonometry and so forth. In AFRICA, it was believed that, “in women alone have been given the secrets of the Mystery.”

    So, after 25,000 years, what happened? About 2800 or so years ago…there was a SEX CHANGE. The Goddesses became Gods and the divine mother became the divine father, male, in the strongly patriarchal cultures of Judaism where father was Lord, literally, of the household and women were owned like cattle or land. The Christian cult, as well as Islam, picked up on this theme and declared all belief in Goddesses as pagan and superstition. Male Gods, you see, were not pagan and superstition but female Goddesses were. How do you like that for the laugh of the day? In the Old Testament there is not even a word for Goddess and the Koran reads as follows: “only pagans pray to females.”

    Christian writings commanded that the shrines of the Goddess be torn down (Acts 19:27). Paul and the early members of the Christian cult went after the female Goddess with the zeal of fanaticism, burning and looting and destroying temples. Paul’s word was that of the patriarch. There was no room for a Goddess or female deities in the developing patriarchal Christian cult. The Goddess Isis especially had to be destroyed. Paul carried this over into his writings (New Testament) commanding wives to be submissive to men and to husbands. He wrote that women were to be silent and not vote in church matters. He wrote, “women were made by God for men. Men were not made for women.” (1 Cor: chap 11) The writings of Paul were so pathological that Dr. Karl Menninger (of the famed Menninger Psychiatric Clinic) wrote in one of his essays that if you lifted these words out of the bible and read them as literature you would soon realize that you were reading the ramblings of a psychotic mind.

    Church “father” Clement of Alexandria wrote: “I have come to destroy all the works of the female.” (You have never heard of a Church “Mother”…only Church “Fathers”)

    In 300 A.D. Emperor Constantine commanded an end to all Goddess worship, calling it “immoral”.

    In 380 A.D. the Emperor Theodosius destroyed the temples of the Goddesses and closed down the temple known as the seventh wonder of the world, the temple of the Goddess Ephesus. This Christian Emperor followed that by a massacre of over 7000 people in Thessalonica.

    The degradation of women stifled into high gear in the 3rd, 4th and 5th century in Christian history. The “founder” of Western theology, Tertullian, wrote, “woman is a temple built over a sewer, the gateway to the devil. Women are the gate of hell.”

    Martin Luther wrote, “If a woman dies from childbearing, it does not matter. Let her die, for that is all she is here for.” (They have churches named after this guy.)

    When the Christian church really went full steam ahead in their destruction of women, the female, the Goddess within women, was during the Great Inquisition.

    I am quoting now from a classic academic work on the Goddesses by Dr. Marija Gimbutas, The Language of The Goddess. The author is a Professor of European archaeology at UCLA and the curator of the Old World archaeology at UCLA’s Cultural History Museum. On page 319, she writes, “women were called Disciples of Satan and this period was one of the bloodiest in history. The witch hunt of the 15th to the 18th centuries was the most satanic event of European history. The murder of women accused as witches escalated to MORE THAN EIGHT MILLION.

    Will Durant in his 12 volume History of Civilization sets the figure at more than NINE MILLION.

    The nurturing Goddess… the caring mother… had been replaced with the male God of the sword.

    One of the most respected and distinguished church historians of our time from Yale University, was Dr. Kenneth Scott Latourette. He wrote this in plain words, bluntly. “Christianity survived, overcame and dominated, not through any teachings of Jesus, but by the brutal tyranny of the bloody sword of Constantine. The bloodiest massacres in history have been justified by telling the people they were ordered by a male God who was masculine, jealous and ordering their destruction.”

    And so mothers, do remember of your day, that there was a time when the nurturing mother, the caring and gentle Goddess who created all things in her image as the giver of life and love, was Supreme. She endured for 25,000 years until finally being replaced by a male God of the sword… a God of battle and war… a God who was jealous and judgmental, and under such a God, the history of religious violence was under way… full steam… slaughtering in the name of God. Such a God endures to this day in the minds of the people of the book, (the bible)… Islam… Israel… and segments of the American White House.”

    I would like to add that I value Chuck’s Advent meditation which was beautifully and lovingly written. I appreciate the links and found every morsel of it fulfilling.

    Valerie

    • Forgot to add that I read and posted this with a degree of cynicism, but what it did for me was to make me think, and that was what was needed. Chuck’s contemplation has helped me to make sense of, and comprehend, the ‘role’ of Christian Mysticism. Sorry, the word ‘role’ isn’t what I want to say but at this early morning hour I can’t think of a suitable substitute.
      Valerie

  10. Blessings Chuck,
    Thank you for your post. It confirmed for me many of my own spiritual experiences of the feminine “aspect” God. I would also like the source of the illustration of the Black Madonna, if you have it. Thank you again,
    Rain

    • Hi Rain,

      I’m glad this post spoke to you. 🙂 I’m trying to track down the image information, and will get back to you as soon as I have something. She’s beautiful, isn’t she?

      Agape,
      Chuck

  11. I am not adding this to my previous comment because this is Advent 2013. I am writing this now because as I see it, a miracle has occurred.

    A couple of night ago I was having the struggle I have had for a little time now, that is questioning if “Holy Father” was the right salutation to be using in my prayers. This was so much on my mind that I could not sleep. In the wee small hours I received an email giving the very link to this Advent meditation. I thought Chuck had just sent it. It seemed totally new to me. I read it but not all the comments. Chandra’s situation was so much like mine. I had always seen God as my best friend. I reflected on my current thoughts about the Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminine. I was learning so much and had so much more to learn on this spiritual journey. Advent a wonder-filled time for self review.

    Next morning the email had disappeared giving me the impression that I had dreamt it, but my smartphone was flashing with three unread emails. The first was a hotel booking confirmation that I had made the previous evening, the third was a message alerting me to a voucher code, but between the two was the Way of the Heart Advent meditation and the date and time was December 6 2012 5.07.

    I have been told that the Universe provides what we need when we need it. How true this is and shows so clearly that miracles do happen.

    Love and Light,
    Valerie

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