The Divine Mother

Henry Ottawa Tanner’s The Annunciation

I do not read the Bible literally.

As a practicing Quaker (who has dabbled in many other spiritual paths), I believe that there is that of God within every person. That we can connect to the Divine directly and purely, and we do not need a priest or pastor or shaman, or even the Bible. Those things can all help very much, but we don’t have to rely on them. We have the divine teacher within each of us.

That teacher is neither male nor female. And the teacher is both. The teacher is whatever manifestation we need at any given time.

This all sounds abstract to some, because a lot of people think they need structure and rules to find their way to God. Make this sign or symbol, say a prayer this way, and all will be well. Believe these specific tenets, and you’ll be right in the eyes of your savior. The pearly gates of heaven will await you.

That shit just doesn’t work for me.

What works is being fully myself—all my flaws, all my pain, all my experiences, all my confusion and doubt and fear, all my questions, all my light and vibrancy and energy, and all my yearning. It’s being aware of all of the stuff I’m carrying within me so that when I sit down two times a day to meditate I can hand that basket over and say, Here, Lord. This is for you.

That is how I connect. I don’t hold anything back, or cover anything up. I don’t pretend to be anything other than what I am. I know God loves me unconditionally. I have felt that in my body, and I have felt that in my soul.

And once you feel that kind of love, or see the way the Divine answers your most earnest of prayers, it’s really hard to go back to living any other way.

A big thing that held me back from the Christian religion for years was the relative absence of feminine figures. It’s not that women are not there; it’s more that they have been pushed to the side as though they don’t matter much. Or they’re not depicted as fully human and relatable.

Women are given short shrift in pretty much every contemporary major religion. And that is not okay.

It is, in fact, the biggest lie we’ve ever lived, this belief that the feminine is not divine, that the divine is not feminine.

When I wrestled with this during Quaker meeting a few years ago, the question of where the goddess was, the One within me showed me an image of Mother Mary. And I realized, “Doh!” She was right there all along. The Divine Feminine that had been stomped on and pushed out as power-hungry church leaders took over Christianity had never really gone missing—she had just been given a minor role. There was my Divine, right there. There was my Goddess.

The question of a virgin birth does not matter to me, except as a beautiful metaphor. Did God really impregnate a woman to give birth to Jesus? I don’t care. What I do care about is the way Mary handled that calling from God, and her inherent purity.

Purity does not mean she had to keep her legs closed, or that any woman is somehow tainted or ruined because she has had or has enjoyed sex.

Purity is about emptying out the ego and the agenda and the expectation. It is about humility, about stripping away all the negativity and doubt and anxiety that resides within you, and finding that when you do that, you have more direct access to the eternal realm. You are more able to receive the teachings the Divine sends you, and you are a beginner again, ever-ready to learn and listen.

And because Mary was this particular kind of faithful, and this particular kind of pure, when the Hand of Wisdom came to her room at night to offer her an opportunity, she opened her eyes and simply said, Yup. I’m all in.

That takes guts.

Mary’s role was to give birth to a being that would touch the lives of many, a being who would become enlightened and teach others about Light and Love.

She is the manifestation of inner strength and wisdom, of steadfast faith, and of surrender to something greater. She is an example of the quiet, humble, internal work we all must do so we can hear the calls from the Divine.

And she is an example (although her presence is quite watered-down in much of Christianity) of the Divine Mother’s unconditional love for us. The Divine Mother’s ability to hold us, to carry us, to bring us, over and over, into new experiences in the world. The Divine Mother eternally delivers us.

For we are always newly born. We are always virgins in life. We are always—when we strip away our egos and our expectations, when we free ourselves of doubt and worry, when we get in touch with what’s in our core—inherently, beautifully pure.

 

Read more about the image here.

 

Categories: spirituality and faith

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