An Attempt to Define “The Sacred Feminine”

An Attempt to Define “The Sacred Feminine” 

Ah… Since I’m leading a three day retreat on The Sacred Feminine  (co-creatively leading it ;~), it might be helpful for there to be some sort of definition on this rather beyond words Divine Consciousness, on this blog.

And frankly, I feel quite challenged to put forth a ‘definition’ since as soon as we try to define something, we limit it within the scope of the words that we choose. And The Sacred Feminine is not something that can be placed within limits. Just as God/Allah/Creator is also called The Great Mystery. The Sacred Feminine fits within those realms of Great Mystery-ness… Maybe I could call Her the Great Mystress… !  Whoa. Not sure where that idea came from, but I kinda like it. Like it a lot.

(If I were more capitalistic, I’d probably try to get this term patented, copyrighted, make t-shirts, coffee mugs and pay for airplanes to etch the term into the sky above large public events with fluffy ephemeral letters that the wind would play with in short order. But, that’s not really my style. Go ahead, folks… if you like it, use it, spread it… have fun with it… It’s not about my creating a burgeoning bank account. It’s about the healing and the balance between the masculine and feminine that we are sorely in need of these days.)

Yes. The Great Mystery in the Feminine Form. Where to start? Maybe it might be easier to start with what the Sacred Feminine is not. Since many of us grew up in the Christian flavor of God-ness, I’ll start there.

The Sacred Feminine is not a big man in the sky with a flowing white beard who will judge us harshly and label us as sinners, nor condemn us to Hell or wherever the selected final soul resting spot might be found in that particular religious flavor. Nor is the Sacred Feminine an angry divine despot seeking total control of our lives and ready to wield thunderbolts or really nasty tornadoes on our towns.

Nor is the Sacred Feminine one that would send suicide bombers or ill-trained airplane pilots into tall buildings to bring down the trust and morale of entire nations. These are not actions of a Sacred Feminine being, to the best of my knowledge (however limited my knowledge may be).

Sigh.

Ah, it is quite challenging to truly define Sacred Feminine. Some use the terms: Goddess, The Great Mother, Divine Mother, and others. Andrew Harvey, the prolific author and mystical scholar penned a brilliant book called “The Return of the Mother” in which he defines the Sacred Feminine (using the term “Divine Mother”).  He writes in the very introduction of the book:

“At the end of his life, the great Indian mystic Aurobindo is said to have said, “If there is to be a future, it will wear the crown of feminine design.” Unless we awaken to the mystery of the sacred feminine, of the feminine as sacred, and allow it to glow into, irradiate, illumine, and penetrate every area of our activity and to create in them all harmony, justice, peace, love, ecstasy, and balance, we will die out and take nature, or a large part of it, with us. Unless we come to know what the sacred feminine really is—it’s subtlety and flexibility, but also its extraordinary ruthless, radical power of dissolving all structures and dogmas, all prisons in which we have sought so passionately to imprison ourselves—we will be taken in by patriarchal projections of it. The Divine Mother, the fullness of the revolution that she is preparing, will be lost to us. We must understand that comprehending the sacred feminine is a crucial part of surviving the next terrible stage of humanity.” (page 1, “The Return of the Mother”)

Harvey goes on to use terms such as:

-       sober, tender joy of the sacred feminine,

-       sense of awe, holiness, and the unity of all beings…appropriate to the sacred feminine.

Within the Catholic Church is the Virgin Mary as a representation of the Sacred Feminine. She is a powerful image and feminine energy for many in that staunchly patriarchal religion. Yet, I personally, always found her too disempowered and watered down as a powerful female force and have shied away from embracing this limited divine feminine representation. When did the Virgin Mary ever rage or party down? Come on now… a real Sacred Feminine energy can really let loose and mountains will tremble, rightly so, at times. (Kali – in the Hindu traditions… now she can really let loose. You go, girl! Though sometimes I think you might be a bit too destructive, but that’s just me…)

Okay, my ‘Recovering Catholicism’ is showing… total disclosure here. But what Sacred Feminine force would inflict such guilt and shame on all of her children as the Catholic/Christian churches have done?

The Jewish tradition has the Wisdom Tradition of “Shekhinah ‘the Glory of God’, a figure who plays a key role in the cosmology of the Kabbalists as an expression of the feminine aspect of God.” (Wikipedia- Sophia)

Oh, people have written books and sermonized and postulated on all sorts of aspects of the Sacred Feminine in religion. One could spend lifetimes reading them and ruminating on the intellectual implications of these texts. And it could all be a tremendous brain exercise to get the synapses going.

But I’m not an academic, these days. Never really was a good academic, truth be told. I’m a gardener most of the time. I really don’t want to focus on the religious texts and terms and multi-syllabic foreign-sounding names that convey a religious sense of the Divine Mother. Honestly those feel like head games that take me away from the heart and soul of what is really Divine Mother Energy – to my sense.

I don’t want to just think about the Divine Mother, I want to feel Her.

I’d rather lie on the ground and dig my face into the moist grass to inhale the rich fecund perfume of Sacred Feminine. I’d rather fold up and lean into to a huge tree trunk and know that if that tree could hug me with her branches, she would. She really would. When a hummingbird zips next to me to drink up a wee bit of nectar from a luscious red hibiscus flower, and then hovers near my face for a millisecond, this is when I know I’m being graced by the Sacred Feminine. She’s there all around me, all around us, all the time. Just step into the woods and inhale her. She loves it when we do that.

I’m talking about spirituality. I’m talking about what we feel in our hearts and our bellies that call us to embrace the great compassion, love, grace and procreative abilities that we all carry within ourselves. Even men carry a piece of the Sacred Feminine, as we, women carry some Sacred Masculine within us.

I’m talking about babies. Kittens. Fledglings that hover near a nest and worried cardinal mommies and daddies flit nervously nearby as the downy baby goes for the first flight, hopefully successfully.

This caring, this love, this gentleness and kindness… surely this is the Sacred Feminine at work. This co-creative focus on quilting circles, non-hierarchical systems and consensus decision-making, and listening empathically… this is the Sacred Feminine.

I’m talking about Earth Mother. Walking on the breast of the Mother.

Ah… you know. I don’t really know what the Sacred Feminine truly is because I’m trying to bring Her into myself and it’s very daunting. I’m trying to wrap my mind and heart and wombspace into this sense of the Sacred Feminine and I suspect that I will still trying to do this up to the day I pass away.

She is a journey, this Sacred Feminine. For years I’ve talked about cultivating our God-space, when I did talks about my book. Maybe I need to start talking about the “Goddess-Space” but that rings funny to me. This is probably something I need to get over.

[Which makes me realize that it would be helpful to blog sometime soon about why people are afraid of the Sacred Feminine, the Goddess, and why, even within me, there is a subtle rankle that surfaces in response to the term “Goddess” that is so subconscious. Hmmm…]

Oh, this is supposed to be a blog entry, not a full chapter for a book. There is so much that I could say further… but it shall have to wait.

But, but… one more last thought about “The Great Mystress”… this term appeals more and more to me. The term ‘wife’ still conveys some sort of subordinate role to the powerful ‘husband’, in my mind. Yet, mistresses have more of an independent life. They are there for their lovers as wished or expected but then wing off for their own adventures. I like this sense of freedom and unbounded lifestyle, for the most part. Yet “Mystress” to whom? Maybe to each one of us, and not one overbearing masculine force?  Maybe… ?

Yet, mistresses are where men go for really good sex and romantic connection at times?  And then what is the role of their wives in their lives?  This is getting rather complicated, rather fast. Hmmm….

I need to play with this more… and try to drop my independent single woman bias from this imagery abit more.

More later. ;~)

About Mare Cromwell

Mare Cromwell is the award-winning author of "Messages from Mother.... Earth Mother" and "If I gave you God's phone number....Searching for Spirituality in America." She is currently working on her third book: "The Great Mother Bible." She has studied with Native American teachers for eighteen years and sits on the World Council for Wisdom Gatherings. Mare calls Western Maryland her home. To learn more about her books, go to http://www.pamoonpress.com. (Note: she is a former worm herder. ;~)
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4 Responses to An Attempt to Define “The Sacred Feminine”

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