Seeking the Feminine / Growing up Protestant

Recently I spent three weeks in France enjoying a spiritual exploration of earth energies and special sites. In ancient churches I gazed at statues of a mother and child, the great emblem of the fecund feminine nature of the Earth. I wondered if the dark or Black Madonna statues originally represented Isis and Osiris, the great goddess and her child of the Egyptian religion. Many of the symbols and names are the same, but then Catholicism has always been able to accept and integrate the native cultures of the people it converted to Christianity. In a little church in Cucugnan not far from the Spanish border Wendy showed us an exquisite pregnant Madonna.

Pregnant Madonna of Cucugnan

I grew up in the Anglican church, not as austere as some, but definitely lacking any trace of the feminine aspect of the Divine. We were all horrified by the idea of Catholics worshipping Mary, and very suspicious of bleeding hearts, saints, grottos and all things Catholic. I was told not to speak to children who wore brown shoes, they were the Catholics. I loved sunday school, I sang all the choruses, collected the stamps, coloured the drawings. I had faith that Jesus would save me. The trinity, the old man, the young man and the ghost, hmmm.

Stamp book with masculine language and images, even mention of mary or mother excluded

In my family life I had no feminine warmth, since my mother suffered from depression, and her mother before her. The closest I came to finding a feminine symbol was an angel, and I dressed as an angel for the Christmas play when I was six. Surely with those long white robes angels must be girls. However I knew Michael was not a girl’s name, although perhaps Gabriel could be. Of course I wished I was a boy, and preferred boy’s activities.

6 year old angel on bended knee ... I felt heavenly!

The bible stories I knew seemed to be about passive women, who quietly accepted their fate and thanked God for it. Like Mary when the angel told her she would have a child. There were no images of vital vibrant powerful women, of leaders or teachers, or skills. In fact the only skills women had in my bible stories were in keeping house and bearing children.

Breakfast at Women's Aglow conference

I did not know what I was missing, but many years later I gravitated to a Christian women’s group where I met strong independent women from diverse backgrounds. I absorbed their strength, laughter and wisdom. The whole focus was still on the male God, but somehow as I delved into the bible as an adult I began to see some feminine images. I fancied that the Holy Spirit was perhaps feminine, and Sophia, who was with God in the beginning when he breathed life into the world was definitely feminine. I discovered a verse in the book of Ruth that thrilled me deeply “the King’s daughter is all glorious within” and I saw myself full of radiant light, at one with the Divine, indeed filled with the glorious presence of the Holy Spirit. I wondered about the Shekhinah glory of God, the presence of the Divine, and felt myself often in this numinous light.

Light of Spirit within

Eventually I had to leave the big charismatic church I was attending because it was so male dominated. Women were subservient to men, even my friend who was a wise woman and skilled teacher. I was not welcome since my husband did not attend. The church began to look like an American commercial enterprise, all out for growth and profit.  Whatever it could offer me was over.

Next I began reading feminist theology, although of interest intellectually it was no comfort spiritually. It was at this time that I read the words of Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Bauman and named our land Dadirri. Both my husband and I could feel the sweet energy in the land. I had a way to go, and a lot of healing to accomplish before I was ready to meet the Divine Feminine again.

Looking back now I see how the post-war white anglo world was blind to the Feminine, how they came to ravage, poison and destroy so much of our beautiful planet. They only had a vision of the conquering and subduing male God taking dominion and profit from anywhere it could be found. Perhaps nations that acknowledged the Madonna/Goddess have not done so much damage?

2 thoughts on “Seeking the Feminine / Growing up Protestant

  1. One of my writer-friends from Internationa Women’s Writing Guild is Eunice Scarfe — I have written about her once or twice in my Napkinwriter blog. She is Canadian and a teacher at Univ of Edmunton and founded a course of women’s studies and she particularly focused on women in the Bible who seemingly had no “voice.” It was GREAT! I particularly fell in love with her prose-poem “The Wife of Lot” which ends with……..”of course I looked back! How else could the story be told. And starts with something like…..”Here I stand by the side of the road, a pillar of salt.” I know I have it in my files. I could send you the whole poem if you wish.

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