As we close out this unusual and tumultuous year, we continue to exist in uncertainty and don’t know what the future holds right now. And yet—here we are at the beginning of Advent. The start of a season that invites us to be present, to wait, to anticipate and watch, and pay attention. And, right now it’s just hard to really lean into any of these things.
But at the same time, I have a desire to be present. I don’t want to let the anxiety and fear in, but I also don’t want to miss what a gift it is to be alive. So maybe Advent and what it offers us is kind of perfect for right now—for this moment in our lives and in our country.
To kick off the Advent season, we talk about the virtue of FAITH. Faith is defined as the substance of the things we hope for, but have not yet received. The evidence of things not yet seen.
In the Unity Church Daily Word for this Sunday, we read that Faith allows divine wisdom to guide our thoughts and actions. It gives us an assurance that our indwelling divinity will lead us towards our true calling. Faith fortifies us with the necessary strength to transcend our limited human knowledge, allowing divine wisdom to guide our thoughts and actions.
In 1 Corinthians 13:13, St. Paul talked about the three main virtues of Faith, Hope and Love. While he said the greatest of these is Love, Faith is also up there in importance. Faith lets us let go of what we have believed to be true about ourselves, the world around us, and about God. In this way, Faith is a little like a kind of death—an entry into the darkness and brave movement into the unknown.
Maybe this time is ripe to think a little differently and shine a new light on what it means to have Faith and knowing and belief. We can gain a new perspective on Faith when we look at it through the lens of the Divine Feminine.
Where we find the Divine Feminine
Learning more about the feminine faces of God as she exists in so many of the world’s religions and traditions can help shine a light and illuminate a different perspective on what Faith can mean, especially for us in this moment. Identifying and connecting with the unique traits of the Divine Feminine can reorient our thinking and our priorities and help heal the artificial divisions created to keep power entrenched in our world today. Divisions like heart from brain, right brain from the left, and the biggie—body, mind, and spirit. Divisions like race and politics and who’s right and who’s wrong. Divisions that keep us focused on ourselves and not on all of us together, as humans.
When you know where to look, the Divine Feminine shows up in many of the world’s faiths and spiritual traditions. There are female goddesses all over the world. Some that you might be familiar with include Quan Yin and Kali, Isis and Aphrodite, Athena, and Diana, to name a few. There are stories and songs of powerful, heroic women in the Christian and Jewish Bibles. Catholics connect with Mary, even though she is not divine. And there is Mother Earth and The Great Mother of many indiginous traditions.
The Taoists explain the origin of all that is as feminine, yet is manifested as both male and female, in what is known as the Yin and the Yang. It is this energy that the Taoist religious text Tao Te Ching attributes to the creation of the cosmos.”Conceived of as having no name, it is the originator of heaven and earth…it is The Mother of all things.” In Kabbalah, the mystical aspect of Judaism, the indwelling aspect of God, also known as Shekinah (SHA-KINE-AH), is considered to be the feminine aspect of God. Kabbalists also know the soul as “She.”
And in the Christian Gnostic tradition and the Psalms, there is Sophia, or Holy Wisdom and breath of life, who many read as the true name and nature of the Holy Spirit. Catholic monk Thomas Merton, in his poem Hagia Sophia, connects with the mystery of faith and offers a new narrative and framework for reimagining God’s vital presence in the natural world. Rather than succumbing to tired theological categories and preconceptions, it breaks them wide open, making old things new, daring us to imagine and hope again.
Here’s a bit of his poem:
“There is in all visible things an invisible fecundity, a dimmed light, a meek namelessness, a hidden wholeness. This mysterious Unity and Integrity is Wisdom, the Mother of all, Natura naturans. There is in all things an inexhaustible sweetness and purity, a silence that is a fount of action and joy. It rises up in wordless gentleness and flows out to me from the unseen roots of all created being, welcoming me tenderly, saluting me with indescribable humility. This is at once my own being, my own nature, and the Gift of my Creator’s Thought and Art within me, speaking as Hagia Sophia, speaking as my sister, Wisdom.”
The Divine Feminine can also be found in the basic archetypal patterns that exist in all cultures—the Mother, the Goddess, the Healer/Witch/Sorceress, and the Crone. Archetypes are patterns of energy with characteristics that are so universal in the human psyche, they are ingrained in how we organize ourselves socially and the stories we create in the process.
The true Spirit of the Divine Feminine overarches the specifics of any one religion or culture. She’s a powerful spiritual energy that is in all us, women and men as well, to be explored, cultivated, and unleashed.
Gift of inner wisdom
Many people are afraid to consider the Divine as feminine in form or nature. Yet I learned on my personal journey that in order to be truly whole, whether we are women or men, we must embrace both the male and feminine aspects of the divine—and we must embrace those aspects within ourselves and one another. The feminine face of God carries the wisdom of all potentiality, of everything that is seen and unseen.
Many times this year, it has felt like everything is coming apart at the seams. Trust in our government and its leaders, our news media, our financial institutions, medicine and science, our healthcare system, religious institutions, our history and what we’ve been taught in school were at historic lows. Even trust in our neighbors to do the right thing and keep each other safe by wearing masks and complying with restrictions seemed low at times.
If we can’t trust anyone, in whom do we put our faith? OURSELVES.
My study of Divine Feminine wisdom traditions has taught me that our relationship with the Divine is inherently personal. We need no institution to tell us what to do, and we need no savior outside of ourselves. Instead, we need to get quiet and begin really listening to the Divinity that lives within each of us.
The Divine Feminine is connected to everything, especially the unseen. One of her gifts is her ability to be fully present in real-time. This is where our power is. As we slow down and BE, we tap into more offerings of the divine feminine—intuition, connection, and wholeness. Emptying our minds of everything that happened before us opens us to what is RIGHT NOW, allows something new and higher to come through us and moves our consciousness to that new place.
Faith: Inner wisdom guides us toward what we hope for but don’t know
We live in a world that validates logic over emotions. The world perpetuates the idea that things don’t exist unless you can see them. But that’s not Faith. Instead, Faith allows divine wisdom to guide our thoughts and actions towards what we hope for. If you want to connect to divine wisdom, or the Divine Feminine within each of us…..start by honoring your intuition. Trust and pay attention to your inner sense of knowing—don’t ignore it.
Have the courage to listen to what your inner wisdom is saying and act on it. Because you have more wisdom than you probably realize. Learning to trust yourself and know that what you are feeling and intuiting is not only valid but also correct for you. Your intuition is your guiding force. Use it and honor it.
Faith: Lean into the darkness of unknowing with courage that light will emerge
Sophia has also taught me about the power and beauty in darkness. The Divine Feminine is the great void, the blackest of nights. In this darkness, light is born. Our moments of personal and cultural darkness are also ripe with promise. The challenge is to lean into the darkness with courage and to trust that there is light waiting to emerge. This means believing that we were all made to live in these times and are completely capable of navigating them with heart and bravery.
Later this month, we will celebrate the winter solstice, the darkest night of the year. We humans have marked this occasion for thousands of years — not because of the darkness, but because it marks the return of the light. This reflects another powerful lesson I’ve learned from the Divine Feminine: honoring the cyclical, circular nature of life.
Divine Feminine reminds us that darkness and light are a repeating cycle
The circle, or spiral, began appearing in conjunction with ancient Goddess worship more than 20,000 years ago. Archeologists describe it as a symbol of regeneration. It appears on Neolithic pottery, covering the bodies of female statues, and features prominently in the art of Minoan Crete — a highly advanced, female-centric culture that flourished around 1500 BC.
The spiral is not only reflected the cyclical rhythms of nature—birth, death, rebirth—it may also have signified a completely different experience of time, one in which human beings were not immune from these cycles of nature, as we tend to think of ourselves now.
“What we call the beginning is often the end, and to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from,” writes T.S. Eliot in his poem Little Gidding.
This does not mean we don’t mourn what has died or appears to be dying. Instead, the Divine Feminine has taught me to step away from the news, put my feet on the ground, and take a deep breath—recognizing that all of life is ruled by natural rhythms. The perceived loss of something always creates space for new possibilities. Always.
Faith that we’ll make it through these times
It looks to me that we might need the help of the Divine Feminine to midwife us through this time in our history. Because she brings to our world—and our lives—those qualities that traditional religions and mystical traditions assign as feminine qualities: Wisdom and the expression of the Soul.
When we tap into wisdom and follow the call of our souls we can then forgive, be tolerant, appreciate everyone’s individuality, and love without conditions. We can act with respect for all life and respect for nature. We can be tenacious and creative in healing the world and moving towards wholeness. We can use our imaginations, have gratitude for all our blessings, and lean into joy and abundance. And we can act collaboratively and remember how we are all connected. The energy of the Divine Feminine also balances the energy of the male; without it, the qualities traditionally associated with male energy—which include warring and aggression—will get completely out of hand.
Mystic Hildegard von Bingen captures the essence of the Feminine Devine so beautifully:
“She is so bright and glorious that you cannot look at her face or her garments for the splendor with which she shines. For she is terrible with the terror of the avenging lightning, and gentle with the goodness of the bright sun; and both her terror and her gentleness are incomprehensible to humans … But she is with everyone and in everyone, and so beautiful is her secret that no person can know the sweetness with which she sustains people, and spares them in inscrutable mercy.”
As we desperately seek balance and peace in these uncertain times, many of us are searching for what’s been missing in modern life. And I believe one of the most important missing pieces of our lives has been The Sacred Feminine—not instead of, but in addition to, The Sacred Male. In the tradition of all-inclusive spirituality, all that is Divine is both Female and Male.
To meet the challenges of the world today as we move into Advent and the close of 2020, we need Faith to hold on to the hope for the wholeness of the world we long for but have not yet received. And we need to temper that faith with Sophia’s wisdom. We can embrace a spirituality that brings the Divine Feminine to the table alongside the traditional male-dominated images and qualities of God.
We are all children made in the image of God…Goddess…All There Is.
When we acknowledge that we are all Divine, as well as complex beings that are both feminine and masculine in nature, we can begin to access true balance in our lives. It is in acknowledging that these qualities exist in all of us that we begin to find balance in our relationship to ourselves, our relationships to one another, and in our relationship to the world we live in. Leaning into the wisdom of the Divine Feminine shines a new light to illuminate and reimagine what Faith can mean for each of us.