What is your concept of God? Usually, it is influenced by your religious and spiritual upbringing, your culture, your society… I have found that unconsciously my limiting beliefs of God were influenced by important male figures in my past who had let me down. I unconsciously believed that God would let me down too, although it took deep searching to realize this. Is God male? What about the maternal influences? What about the feminine in life and spirituality? My personal experiences in Western society today had let me to believe that males held the key to understanding Truth because female influences had been minimized, discounted. Consciously I was a feminist, but unconsciously I was influenced by our society and patriarchy.
Today in many religious traditions the male principle is dominant, considered the voice of authority, the representation of the Divine on earth. This might be because the “voice of God” has been interpreted by males for the last 2,000 years. This has been a reflection of society. But the Hero Principle and the Feminine Principle stand equal in human history. Mother Earth was the symbol of the unconscious from which all consciousness arose. In ancient Babylon, Egypt, Greece and Rome the Divine Goddess was considered the Source of All. For over two thousand years before Christ the Divine representative was feminine. Ishtar, the Star Goddess of Babylon and Mesopotamia, who was originally known as Inanna of Sumer, and Isis of Egypt were powerful feminine deities. They were the Divine Mother. They were strong, powerful and vibrant deities ruling over sterility and fertility, life and death, day and night. In Egypt Isis shared her influence with Osiris, Isis was the head of the religious or spiritual teachings and Osiris was the head of the state. They came together to combine and consummate their union in the Spring Festival. They were each equally valued. How did this lineage get lost?
In the early centuries A.D., the patriarchy slowly exerted its force in established Christian religion. The masculine was valued and the feminine was devalued. Mary Magdalene, who was favored by Jesus, wrote a Gospel that was not included in the Canonized Bible although she was the one who discovered Jesus risen from the tomb and went to tell the other disciples. Both men and women who had known Jesus and his teachings went out to spread the gospel. Yet John reports that it caused trouble in a church and thereafter only men were allowed to teach.
There have been periods in Western Europe when the feminine was so challenging to the established Roman Catholic church that women were considered witches. Women who understood using herbs in healing were similarly a threat to the male medical system that was emerging and again they were deemed witches and burned at the stake. Such was the threat to the patriarchy. Some of these assumptions of women’s place as subservient to men still survives in countries and religions today. Girls and women are considered unworthy of learning and must be kept in the home raising children and serving the men.
Certainly, the Divine Source is beyond the limiting concepts of male and female. God is androgenous, a combination of male and female characteristics. American Indians conceive of Mother Earth and Father God. We see in nature both the birthing of new flowers and plants in the spring and the destruction of winter, destruction of those creations. But it takes work to integrate these two aspects. And it doesn’t help if males are taught that it is weak to feel their feelings. Many are taught that the only appropriate response to feelings is anger or laughter. They are taught to attack or dismiss these feelings rather than listen with compassion and accept and express these feelings appropriately. Similarly, it doesn’t help if women are taught that they are not capable of understanding mathematics or spatial reasoning, only of being compassionate and supportive. It has been demonstrated that the exact same article can be submitted for publication under a female name and get rejected. That same article submitted under a male name gets published. Such is the depth of our negative assumptions of women’s intellect.
God is both feminine and masculine and we are being called to be both as well to the best of our God-given ability. I believe that incorporating compassion and intuition into our world view is essential. We must learn to use our minds to think analytically which is going beyond looking up an answer on Google or reading a script to answer a question. That is a dumbing down of our society and world.
This is hard work. Learning to balance assertiveness with compassion takes practice. Being the love that we are does not mean that we are always soft and receptive. We sometimes have to establish boundaries with others. Yet this can be done in a way that respects the other person, if all are working at it. It takes work to understand another’s perspective. Yet that effort is necessary in our world today.
I believe it is imperative for our world to grow beyond self-definition as “me” to include all that exists: plants, animals, birds, fish, the earth, the sky, the multiverses. This shift is necessary in order to stop the hoarding of resources, the “us” versus “them” mentality, and end the struggle for shelter, food, safety, and love. This requires that we all reach out our awareness and receptivity to include all perceived expressions of the Divine. We are all, on this earth, connected and need each other. It is also important to include female pronouns in spiritual texts. So many times, I read “man is made in the image of God.” How about “woman is made in the image of God.” “He can reach out to God for help.” Why not “she can reach out for help.” This may be a subtle difference to some, but a profound difference to others. There is still a predominant subtle influence in most religious and spiritual books toward the male. Give the past 2,000 years of male supremacy, I think we need the next few hundred years to reflect the feminine. Here’s a vimeo you might enjoy… You Gotta Believe on Vimeo.