Mother's Day & the Sacred Feminine in the World's Spiritual Traditions
This post started with a Mother’s Day email I received earlier this week from Theresa at Kundalini Yoga of Long Island – a welcoming studio I’ve visited for concerts and workshops. Her thoughtful writing always blesses me and her current reflections echoed in a deep place in my heart, where for some time, I’ve been wondering about the feminine side of G-d that’s presented in the world’s sacred scriptures, beginning with the one that first formed me.
One feminine quality is receptivity, as evidenced as a woman receives the male seed and protects and nurtures it within the safety of her body. To help prepare us to be receptive, let’s begin this time together with a contemplative chant based on a prayer of Teresa of Avila. I selected the duet version as it helps us see the dual nature of G-d’s “gender” identity.
Martha’s of the world, chill – it’s only 3 minutes of be-ing.
“Seek yourself in me…seek me in yourself…”
OK, let’s move on, hopefully with some newly-created receptivity and open spaces.
Here’s Theresa’s email…”
Mother of the world
I can't help but think that this pandemic is Mother Earth's way of giving us all a time out. Let's face it, we, the human race have been behaving badly. As much of the world is social distancing and in their homes, Mother Earth, our World Mother is healing. Places around the globe are witnessing blue skies for the first time in many, many years, clear waters in waterways, but this is not enough. We need real long lasting human changes. Perhaps this pandemic is a wake-up call and it is time to reconsider our relationship with Mother Earth. We can make this the most powerful Mother's Day of all time. How can we honor Mother Earth, the Mother of our World?
Protecting our planet starts with each of us.
Here are a few articles with things we can do:
"We return thanks to our Mother, the Earth, which sustains us.
We return thanks to the rivers and streams which supply us with water.
We return thanks to all herbs which furnish medicines for the cure of our diseases.
We return thanks to the moon and stars which have given to us their light
when the sun was gone.
We return thanks to the sun that has looked upon the Earth with a beneficent eye.
Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit in whom is embodied all goodness,
and who directs all things for the good of her children."
Wishing you a very special day, Mother's Day, honoring our many mothers.”
As I’ve wondered about the sacred feminine, as some have termed it, I became curious about how much of religion presents the Mystery many call “G-d” from a mostly, and sometimes only, masculine perspective. G-d and the religious institutions and personnel that represent “him” seem so male, yet the writers of the Judeo-Christian scriptures (my formative tradition) tell us that G-d’s nature is both male and female. Here’s my source material:
God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them
reflecting our nature
So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
the birds in the air, the cattle,
And, yes, Earth itself,
and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”
God created human beings;
he created them godlike,
Reflecting God’s nature.
He created them male and female.
God blessed them:
“Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!
Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,
for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.”
-Genesis 1:27-28 (The Message version)
There’s a lot in these two verses: stewardship (care-filled responsibility) for our planet, humankind’s “godlike” nature, and G-d’s male/female nature. All three of these issues have created controversy; as has the complex issue about why women have been denied leadership roles in male-run organizations like church, politics, and business. Since it’s Mother’s Day, I’m choosing instead to focus our attention on other aspects of the sacred feminine.
Mother I Feel You - Rainbow Spirit Oregon (0:03:11)
Bobby McFerrin Psalm 23 – For Mother’s Day (03:07)
Bobby McFerrin doing a compilation of Bach and Gounod Ave Maria’s (0:04:27)
Snatam Kaur – Water of Your Love (0:05:16)
She created this video in partnership with the Sierra Club.
Snatam Kaur - Earth Prayer - The Official Music Video (0:04:00)
Divine Mother ~ Sacred Earth (0:09:38)
The Sacred Insight Feminine Wisdom Festival of Faith (2018)
I discovered this veritable “motherlode” of resources for my own wonderings about this important topic while writing this post. This is a regular occurrence these days and I see it as a sign that I’m doing, I’m being what’s mine to do and to be at this moment in time. “This is the way…walk in it.” As I’ve said in other recent posts, I’m learning more to be receptive so I’ll more quickly yield control to the voices of my Muse, my Spirit.
THE 23RD ANNUAL FESTIVAL OF FAITHS, 'Sacred Insight - Feminine Wisdom' was a five-day nationally acclaimed multi-faith celebration of music, poetry, art, film, and dialogue with spiritual leaders, practitioners, and teachers that was held April 24 – 28, 2018 in Louisville, KY. More Information: https://festivaloffaiths.org
A few resources from this event:
Thomas Merton and the Sacred Feminine (0:16:18)
The presenter informs us that “Sophia” is the Greek name for wisdom. She balances the Bible’s obvious masculine face of G-d with her more hidden feminine face of G-d. She is personified as feminine in the Bible’s books of Wisdom and Proverbs.
The core of my addiction – Ty Gibbs (0:09:46)
Speaking at this event, she shares her history of abuse and addiction and how Thistle Farms helped her discover her real identity and give her a new life. Inspiring!
The art of making vulnerable art – Brianna Harlan (0:10:19)
Brianna Harlan, a mixed media artist tells her story through art. She explores identity-based experience through radically vulnerable art to invite transformative dialogue. She entered into art to help with her own conflicts and now helps others do the same – to find the wisdom in the dark places of our lives. One of her projects is called “The Divided States of Americans.”
Brianna exhibited her work at the Iroquois Library in Louisville, KY. I find this significant if you consider what we’ve already looked at:
· Theresa’s opening Iroquois Prayer
· Thomas Merton has his life-changing experience at the corner of 4th and Walnut in downtown Louisville, KY. You can read more about his transformative experience here.
Everyone owns a piece of the land – Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin (0:24:28)
“Nina Beth Cardin is a rabbi, author, and environmental activist. In 1988 she was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary. Over the course of her professional life she founded the Jewish Women’s Resource Center. From 2007 until 2009 she was general consultant to the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life. In 2011, she founded the Baltimore Orchard Project, which grows and distributes fruit to the poor in Baltimore.
What we do to the Earth is a mirror of what we also do to the feminine aspects of ourselves. She has been objectified, dominated, tamed, brutalized, and neglected. This session will reveal how the wisdom of the natural world manifests itself, and how to use this wisdom as a teacher, guide, and healer to restore balance in our relationships with the Earth and each other."
Sufi Spiritual Practice on the Sacred Feminine (0:34:45)
"Sufism (tasawwuf) is the inner, spiritual, mystical dimension of Islam. Its aim is union with God through Emptiness, Presence, and Love. Its method is the practice of dhikr, the remembrance or invocation of God with every breath. By the rhythmic repetition of the names and attributes of God, the worshiper is absorbed into God’s Presence.
Sheikha Cemalnur Sargut is one of Turkey’s deepest and most inspiring Muslim spiritual teachers. She will lead a sohbet (spiritual discourse), and a dhikr (invocation of God ritual). A Sufi master with a major worldwide following, she is also the President of the Turkish Women’s Cultural Association in Istanbul."
Buddhist Spiritual Practice on the Sacred Feminine (0:42:21)
"A teaching on the Prajnaparamita, the Perfection of Transcendent Wisdom. The Divine Feminine in a fundamental or essential way refers to insight or wisdom. Prajna means accurate seeing and Paramita means to go beyond or transcend our ordinary way of seeing things.
Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel is a Buddhist teacher, author, and practitioner who has studied and practiced the Buddhadharma for 30 years under the guidance of Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche. Elizabeth says, “these emptiness teachings are very powerful and transformative for our time, yet they are often overlooked or misunderstood… They have changed my whole life.”"
Hindu Spiritual Practice on the Sacred Feminine (0:31:53)
"A guided meditation on the “Light of Loving Consciousness.” Rooted in the Vedanta Hindu tradition, this meditation is on the Divine Feminine in Her impersonal aspect chit, the light of consciousness, which is the same as ananda, loving consciousness.
A meditation aimed at centering ourselves more deeply in a particular mood of the Divine Feminine, by either choosing a symbol (such as Kali, Durga, Laksmi, Radha, Sita, or Mother Mary); an attribute (such as compassion, forbearance, or unconditional love); shakti, (Primal Energy, the power of Brahman, God); or her Divine Presence.
Pravrajika Brahmaprana joined the Saranda Convent at the Vedanta Society of Southern California in 1973 and has been an ordained sannyasini since 1984. She is the resident minister of the Ramakrishna Vedanta Society of North Texas, in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. She is the author of books and articles on the philosophy and practice of Vedanta for journals and anthologies in America and abroad.”
“While my [Richard Rohr] religious order is far from perfect, I appreciate how Franciscanism has in so many subtle ways honored and embraced the feminine side of things. One scholar rightly says that St. Francis ‘without having a specific feminist program . . . contributed to the feminizing of Christianity.’  French historian André Vauchez, in his critical biography of Francis, adds that this integration of the feminine ‘constitutes a fundamental turning point in the history of Western spirituality.’  I think they are both onto something, which creates the distinctiveness and even the heart of the Franciscan path. In so many ways, we were not like the classic pattern of religious orders.”
Let’s end as we begun – with a pause for a few deep contemplative breaths before we engage our world of action.
Teresa of Avila – Seek Me in Yourself, Seek Yourself in Me (0:3:21)
I first heard this solo version of the chant performed during the Center for Action and Contemplation’s “Trinity” webinar.
Hey, I just noticed another connection – we have two sacred women named Theresa/Teresa in this post/conversation.
Here is Teresa’s prayer chant:
Soul, you must seek yourself in Me
And Me you must seek in yourself.
You were created for love
Beautiful, gracious, and thus
In my heart painted
Should you lose yourself, O my beloved,
Soul, you must seek yourself in Me.
But if perhaps you should not know
Where you may find Me
Do not go hither and thither,
But, if you should wish to find Me,
Me you must seek in yourself.
--St. Teresa of Avila (tr. Raimon Panikkar)
Happy Mother’s Day – to all mothers and to all who were carried into this world by your mothers.
#art #music #MothersDay #FestivalOfFaiths #Iroquois #KundaliniYogaOfLI #Franciscan #TheShack #ThomasMerton #TeresaAvila