“The Divine Feminine: Who Is She?”
When I say the feminine, I don’t mean gender. I mean the feminine principle that is living—or suppressed—in both men and women. . . . How can we connect? Where is the love? . . . The great work of our time is to bring the feminine into this culture. —Marion Woodman
The Spring Equinox is a festival of awakening, and rebirth. With the Spring Equinox, the Earth returns to a place of perfect balance. Can we balance the Divine Feminine with the Sacred Masculine as well? Let’s take a look during the Sunday gathering.
Speaker: Rev. Chris Kell
March 20, 2022
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Spring Prayer to our Mother Creator
Mother Creator, we welcome you in your season of spring.
With you comes hope, carried upon the wind, filling field and forest, city and town. With joy, we welcome the spring sun who warms and feeds our earth with energy and light. We welcome you, season of spring.
Blessed are you, spring, bright season of life awakening. You gladden our hearts with opening buds and returning leaves as you put on your robes of splendor. Teach us the lesson of spring: that all creation comes alive, trees and bushes, flowers and plants.
Blessed are you, spring. You invite us to sing songs to awaken the frozen regions within and without. You open the closed buds of our despair as you exchange places with winter and journey with us to the flowering places. In you is a life no death can destroy.
Blessed are you, spring. Your renewing rain showers and cleansing storms nurture the potential that sleeps in Earth’s heart – and in our own earthly hearts.
Blessed are you, spring, season of hope and renewal, free gift of the earth. Each year you amaze us with the miracle of returning life.
Adaptation of a Spring Prayer by the Sisters of Mercy Mid-Atlantic Community
Let us think of Mother Earth, her rich bounty that will result from springtime, the golden corn and the seeds of harvest, all grown s strong from Mother Earth, the spring rains, and the energy of Father Sky. It is time to consider healing: healing of ourselves, healing of a loved one, healing of adversaries for peace among nations, and healing of the harms done to Mother Earth.
Oh, Great Spirit, I pray for myself in order that I may be healed.
Oh, Great Spirit, I pray for my close friend who is sick and needs help.
Oh, Great Spirit, I pray for this world so that all these atomic weapons and other bad things that we point at each other will someday soon all be destroyed. I pray that adversaries will communicate and all of the mistrust will be healed.
Oh Great Spirit, I pray for the environment. I pray for its cleansing and the renewal of our Mother Earth.
~ Ed McGaa, Eagle Man
“The Divine Feminine: Who is She?”
What if our God was Queen of heaven? What if, when I looked in the mirror, the image that was looking back at me was how I imagined God might look, and if I am truly made in God’s image, how I might look? Not an old white man with a bushy long beard and a stern expression, but a beautiful, vibrant, full-bodied woman, with beautiful hair and a shining face, dressed in a stunning gold dress and wearing expensive jewelry. And other times when I look in the mirror, when I am depressed, sad, emotionally worn down and mentally worn out, would I see the face of a kind and loving mother, laugh lines around her eyes and mouth, wrinkles in her cheeks and forehead, compassion and acceptance in her eyes?
These days when I look in the mirror, I see an older physical version of the young woman I once was and I wonder, how did I get here? More and more, I find myself returning to my spiritual roots, – not back to the Catholic church where I worshiped as a girl, but to a trust and reliance on the words my mother spoke to me when I wanted to know how she made it through her own times of trouble. “I have my faith,” she said, and I knew she spoke the truth.
I made the same journey many of us have made . . .
After I made the decision to leave the church, I made the same journey many of us have made, exploring various beliefs and traditions. This was the late 60’s, and I really loved all the New Age fun stuff I experienced, and I enjoyed learning about Buddhism, Hinduism, Wicca and other religions. Later, going back to university led me to Women’s Studies, the many movers and shakers of the women’s movement, and feminist spirituality. Then came New Thought, and eventually interfaith, One Spirit Seminary, and One World Spiritual Center.
This has been a journey of mixed emotions, with plenty of ups and downs, including times when I didn’t know if I still believed in God and felt like even the Universe was against me, punishing me unjustly for wrongs I didn’t know I committed, and holding me to standards I could not possibly live up to. Christina Cavener, Youth Minister and Founder and Leader of Feminine Divine Worship Services at Grace United Methodist Church in Dallas, expresses my feelings exactly when she says:
I felt that God could not quite identify with my experiences, and so I became increasingly distant from the God I knew. This inflicted so much pain on my spirituality that I began to doubt the mere existence of Go
“I have my faith,” she said . . .
But still, my mother’s words stayed with me. “I have my faith,” she said, and so I held on to mine.
All those years, the one person I felt closest to, and from whom I felt the most support and love, was our Blessed Mother, Mary. She is the one to whom I turned when I needed comfort, when I needed help facing the challenges of marriage, nurturing and taking care of my children, and when I simply felt overwhelmed with the sadness and troubles of my world and the world around us.
And in her compassion and grace, Mary led me to the Divine Feminine.
So what do I mean when I speak of the Divine Feminine?
So what do I mean when I speak of the Divine Feminine? Am I talking about Goddess worship? The goddesses of Hinduism, tribal religions, paganism? When I say Divine Feminism do you automatically think Wicca, the Goddess, or Goddess spirituality?
Well, let me be clear here: although I think of myself as a feminist, when I talk about the Divine Feminine I am not referring to Goddess Spirituality, the goddess movement, paganism, or Wicca. I will say, however, that my path to the Divine Feminine did take me through what has come to be known as Feminist Spirituality.
In my mind, the Divine Feminine means all of these, and much, much more. Yet, as with all concepts that talk about the Divine Mystery, putting feelings into words can be difficult, as there are no words to adequately describe them.
Nobody really knows what God looks like.
The way I think of it goes like this –– and remember, my talk today is an attempt to explain my personal view of the Divine Feminine, not religious dogma –– the human construct of the Divine Mystery we refer to commonly as God, is simply that: an image to whom we have given a human form to make it easier for us to relate to and communicate with, because nobody really knows what God looks like. But because of thousands of years of a patriarchal mindset, God has been primarily imagined as male, while, and an elder –– from back when elders were appreciated more than they are today.
Fortunately, today many people have evolved in their thinking about the Divine Mystery, or Godhead, as neither male nor female, and yet at the same time, both male and female. The Divine Feminine is one Face of God, who together with the Sacred Masculine creates a balanced and inclusive Divine image for us all, who we name Creator, Comforter, Spirit, Universe, the One, among many other titles. This is, of course, a hugely simplified and generalized explanation of extremely complicated theology. However, I hope it gives you an idea of my thinking.
. . . the Universe and everything in it, including humans, was created in balance.
One of the key words I find in talking about the Divine Feminine is balance. I believe the Universe and everything in it, including humans, was created in balance. Examples of this principle abound: the ancient Chinese Yin and Yang symbol models a balance between receptive and productive, introspective and extrospective, feminine and masculine –– but the two energies depend on one another. The black and white shapes swirl into and out of each other in harmony, changing, flowing, and making room for every possible version of balance.
The sun and the moon are interconnected and both are essential to the functions and movement of this planet. The right and left sides of our brain work together in harmony. But, as spiritual feminist scholar Charlene Spretnak explains, because of the persistent perception in the West since the time of the Greeks that there is an irreversible disconnect between body and mind, humans and nature, immanent and transcendent, and the small “s” self and the divine Self, this balance has been disrupted and continues to be out of balance as long as the feminine side of nature is ignored or dismissed.
I believe the Divine Feminine is a living entity . . .
I believe the Divine Feminine is more than a way to refer to the feminine side of the Godhead. I believe she is a living entity who represents the natural balance we must re-establish if we are to restore peace and repair our environment. She is soft, yet has the emotional strength to withstand the physical. She is the wisdom that counterbalances reason; humor that lightens determination; compassion that softens macho bullishness.
Elizabeth Lesser, cofounder of Omega Institute and the Omega Women’s Leadership Center, has written about the Divine Feminine as a living feminine principle. She writes:
When I say the feminine, I don’t mean gender. I mean the feminine principle that is living—or suppressed—in both men and women. The feminine principle attempts to relate. Instead of breaking things off into parts, it says, ‘Where are we alike? How can we connect? Where is the love? Can you listen to me? Can you really hear what I am saying? Can you see me? Do you care whether you see me or not?’
. . . women unsatisfied with patriarchal religions have explored and created numerous paths to authentic spiritual experience . . .
In 2011, Spretnak wrote that the women’s spirituality movement is a loosely constituted, highly diverse part of the feminist movement in which women unsatisfied with patriarchal religions have explored and created numerous paths to authentic spiritual experience, including working within the Abrahamic and other religions to transform them; practicing Buddhist meditation (where there is no godhead of either sex); reading about the 11,000 known goddesses or the various cultural traditions of female shamans; studying the intimate communion with nature in traditional native people’s religions; and creating meaningful spiritual practices. In addition, a well-established academic counterpart studies women and world religions, the cultural history of women’s sacred arts, and the many philosophical issues that radiate from a shift to a deeply relational perspective on religion, culture, history, politics, economics, and education.
I believe that the feminist spirituality movement, indeed, the entire women’s liberation movement in all its waves, which I think is up to four currently, is inspired directly by the Divine Feminine. Relegated to the background for far too long, and sometimes so completely dismissed as to be almost undetectable, the feminine is demanding to be seen, heard, and listened to.
. . . the principle of the Divine Feminine is not simply a feminist contrivance.
And you know, the principle of the Divine Feminine is not simply a feminist contrivance. Fr. Matthew Fox has written and lectured extensively about the Divine Feminine. In speaking of Hildegard of Bingen, he teaches that 800 years ago, Hildegard was pointing out the injustices of her time, the same injustices of our time – only magnified. She warns us, Fox states, of the consequences of the mistreatment and marginalizing of women, oppression of the poor and powerless, destruction of our environment, and the dangers of a patriarchal system run wild.
Again, in a recent lecture focusing on Julian of Norwich and her teachings, he tells us that Julian developed a feminist theology 700 years before feminism. Her world-view is based on finding God as Mother in all elements of Divinity and in our own souls. Her emphasis on non-dualism and blending of the sensual and spiritual deconstructs patriarchy altogether. Her words empower us to stand up to the killing of Mother Earth through climate change, the oppression of women and girls, and of the denial of the divine feminine, going on in the world today. She deconstructs the patriarchal mindset and reconstructs a healthy balance of the sacred masculine and divine feminine.
Feminist spirituality aims to reclaim the divine feminine power that resides within every woman
Feminist spirituality aims to reclaim the divine feminine power that resides within every woman, to honor the divine female role of creation and fertility, nurture and solace, and to participate in the realm of “spirit” historically dominated exclusively by men.
We need the divine feminine so that when women and girls look at themselves they see powerful human beings no longer defined by and according to male definitions. Women today are emotionally stronger, physically stronger, intellectually stronger. They learn to value emotions, creativity, and wisdom in themselves and other women.
The divine feminine empowers men to see a human being who is complete and whole “as is.”
When men and boys look at women they see a real person, not one who is simply an extension or property of a male, a person who is less than a male simply because she is not a man. They don’t see a girl who is physically fragile and weak, emotional, and has no will or decision-making ability of her own. The divine feminine empowers men to see a human being who is complete and whole “as is”: she owns her existence and authority as her own right, a power of her own making, and language and vocabularies that are not merely an echo of patriarchal opinion and doctrine.
The Divine Feminine lets me see myself as truly made in the image of God, which is impossible when God is defined solely by masculine language, images, and definition. I know people who have said that God has no gender, and that they don’t need to think of “him” as having masculine and feminine faces or aspects because “he” is all one. All I have to do, they say, is just ignore the language.
Referring to the Divine exclusively as male creates a confinement of God’s identity.
Christina Cavener says,
Sexism has caused society to eradicate or simply ignore the biblical use of feminine images and names for God historically and into the present. Referring to the Divine exclusively as male creates a confinement of God’s identity. When we label the Divine exclusively as ‘Father,’ ‘King,’ or ‘Lord,’ we limit the ways we can express the multiplicity that God really is. Worshiping the Feminine Divine opens the door for healing because it allows participants to experience what exclusive male language cannot offer: liberation from a male-dominated tradition and society.”
In their book The Feminine Face of God: The Unfolding of the Sacred in Women, Sherry Ruth Anderson and Patricia Hopkins write:
. . . throughout history women have learned about spiritual realization from men. Male guides and male interpreters—priests, rabbis, ministers, Zen masters, yogis, and countless others, male teachers have defined what spirituality is and how it is to be developed and experienced in our lives. In almost all accounts of the sacred, both language and story have been the expression of men conveyed in male imagery. This led us to consider something else: the power of language as a tool not only for expressing but for teaching spiritual principles.
. . . language is so much a part of who we are.
For me, language is so much a part of who we are. As human beings in need of identifying parameters, language defines us, our freedoms, our responsibilities –– our lives. And I want to be included in our language as a whole human being in a community of whole human beings, not a part of a community that only recognizes the value of one-half the group while marginalizing the other half.
Anderson and Hopkins ask the question: What does it mean to accept spiritual responsibility in our lives? What they discovered is that women on spiritual paths today must look beyond models of the past for inspiration. We must listen to the deep source of wisdom within ourselves and tell the truth about our lives and what we are learning. This means questioning everything we have been taught or taken for granted that is not validated by our own experience. Simply by asking one key question, Is this true for me? about each “truth” we hear, we challenge ourselves to become what we truly are. What is the face of God that can be revealed through women?
The gift of the Divine Feminine is the potential she offers for recognizing, reclaiming, and valuing our feminine nature.
The gift of the Divine Feminine is the potential she offers for recognizing, reclaiming, and valuing our feminine nature. This entails healing the wounds between human beings and other forms of life, especially the imperiled life of our earth. Climate change, racial justice, health care, and worship and spiritual practices are among many feminine conversations on the national stage — topics that focus on nurturing our planet and creating a balanced and supportive society rather than restrictive rules and policies.
Embracing the divine feminine means examining ourselves honestly and holistically to find the balance that works for us as individuals, and to embody the sacred so deeply that it flows into all our relationships.
Yet, it is important that we recognize both the Sacred Masculine and the Divine Feminine to regain our balance. It is important to me, because they are both a part of me, and together they are the image in which I am made.
To me the Sacred Masculine represents the physical, the reasonable, the judge. The Divine Feminine is a wise and valued friend who understands everything I feel and loves me anyway. She is a beloved companion who has opened doors to places I might never have visited without her. I am so grateful She found me and so honored to have been called to her service.
About Rev. Chris Kell
Rev. Chris Kell is an Interfaith/Interspiritual Minister, an ordained graduate of One Spirit Interfaith Seminary, a graduate of the Priestess Emergence Process, and a Certified Life Success Consultant. She has a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, with concentrations in Women’s Studies and Small Group Communication, and post-graduate studies in Feminine Spirituality. Rev. Chris has a deep appreciation for the aspirations of the human spirit. She has been fortunate in discovering how nurturing and supportive a positive environment can be, how it encourages spiritual strength and expands the possibilities for living a good life. Her goal is to be a catalyst for others in envisioning and discovering for themselves a spiritually enriched life. She can be reached at Rev.ChristineKell@gmail.com.
Letters for God’s Name – Q and W, by Gail Ramshaw, read by Maria Terc
“If our God were Queen of heaven, we could burn incense to her and bake cakes for her, and our adoration would be acceptable.
If our God were Queen of heaven, her crown would rest on hair long and curly and rainbowed, and we could grab on to that hair as we nursed and so be saved from falling. Her shining face, smooth and clear as light, would enliven the universe. And when we were poor, the Queen would take from her necklace flowing with pearls and opals and every coloured gem, perhaps an amber to fill our needs. The resplendent gold of her majestic robe would be what we call the sun, and the sheen of her nightdress the moon. Her rule would reach to the deepest corners of the darkness; her beauty would rout the devils and her wisdom rear the world. Her royal blood would give us divinity. Our being born again in God would be a nativity from the divine womb. God’s labour an agony of necessity: for we know it is the essence of the reign of our Queen to love with mercy. Our death would be, as with all babies, a going home to mother. Our life would be, as with heirs apparent, following in the train of the Queen.”
This service aired on March 20, 2022