Feminine Incarnation

June 9th, 2019 by Dave Leave a reply »

The First Incarnation
Monday, June 10, 2019

In mythic imagination, I think Mary intuitively symbolizes the first incarnation—or Mother Earth. I am not saying Mary is the first incarnation, only that she became the natural archetype for it. Carl Jung believed that humans produce in art and story the inner images the soul needs in order to see itself and to allow its own transformation. Perhaps this is why the Madonna is still the most painted subject in Western art.

Mirabai Starr, student and translator of mystics across religions and a fellow New Mexican and dear friend of the CAC, writes about one such image that has had far-reaching impact. (We will hear more about Mirabai’s inter-spiritual history later in the week.)

When Christianity collided with indigenous religions around the world, a kind of nuclear fusion unfolded between the Earth Mother and the Mother of Christ. The apparition known as Our Lady of Guadalupe, from the Valley of Mexico, is a particularly potent example. This hybrid of Mother Mary and Tonantzin, the Mother of the Corn in Aztec tradition, appeared on the exact spot where the Nahuatl people had been worshiping the fertility goddess for millennia, and she spoke first to an indigenous farmer in his own language. Her skin was dark like their own, yet her features were European. She wore the traditional pre-Columbian maternity sash and also a mantle of stars, like the Virgin Mary. She made it clear that she was the Mother of All People and that her task and her delight was to love us, to give us shelter, to comfort our hearts, and to protect us.

The appearance of Our Lady in the sixteenth century in the Valley of Mexico coincided with the height of the Spanish Conquest, when the colonizers were systematically eradicating indigenous culture, murdering dissenters, and strangling the rights of the native people. The tender mercy of Mother Mary alchemically melded with the fierce power of the Mother of the Corn, and a glorious advocate emerged. Our Lady of Guadalupe bypassed the fear and suspicion engendered by the oppressors and offered a reconciling love that has continued as a wellspring of support for the people of Latin America. . . . [1]

I believe that Mary is the major feminine archetype in the Christ Mystery, foreshadowed as Sophia or Holy Wisdom (see Proverbs 8:1; Wisdom 7:7), and again shown in the cosmic symbol of “a Woman clothed with the sun and standing on the moon” (Revelation 12:1-17). Neither Sophia nor the Woman of Revelation is precisely Mary of Nazareth, yet in so many ways, both are—and each broadens our understanding of the Divine Feminine.

The first incarnation (creation) is symbolized by Sophia-Incarnate, a beautiful, feminine, multicolored, graceful Mary. She is invariably offering us Jesus, God incarnated into vulnerability and nakedness. Mary became the symbol of the First Universal Incarnation. She then hands the Second Incarnation (Jesus) on to us. Earth Mother presenting Spiritual Son, the two first stages of the Incarnation. Feminine Receptivity handing on the fruit of her yes and inviting us to offer our own yes. There is a wholeness about this that many find very satisfying to the soul. Mary is all of us both receiving and handing on the gift.

Archetypal Feminine
Sunday, June 9, 2019

I know I am taking some risks writing about Feminine Incarnation. There are certainly limitations to the construct of binary genders. God and Christ are beyond gender, and all humans are a blend of masculine and feminine traits. But because Western Christianity and culture have primarily worshipped male images, I believe it’s important to reclaim and honor female wisdom. Whether you identify as a cisgender man or woman, are trans or non-binary, I hope this week’s reflections will help you see aspects of yourself that may have been ignored or suppressed. [1]

I draw from my own encounters with God, my mother, sisters, and many women friends and colleagues over the years. And I’ll share insights from several women I deeply respect. I hope these perspectives invite you to trust your own experiences with the divine feminine. For many, it is an utterly new opening, since most Christians falsely assumed that God is strictly masculine even though there are numerous descriptions of a mothering, feminine God throughout the Bible.

In spite of patriarchy’s attempt to marginalize women, the feminine incarnation continues to appear in innumerable ways. This week we’ll focus especially on Mary, the mother of Jesus. Whenever I go to Europe, I am struck by how many churches are dedicated to Mary. Here in New Mexico and throughout Mexico, Our Lady of Guadalupe is found everywhere: in tattoos, murals, bathtubs converted to garden shrines, and gilt statues. Why did the first fourteen hundred years of Christianity, in both the Eastern and Western churches, fall head over heels in love with this seemingly quite ordinary woman? After all, the New Testament speaks very little of Mary.

We are clearly dealing with not just a single woman here but a foundational symbol—or, to borrow the language of Carl Jung (1875–1961), an “archetype”—an image that constellates a whole host of meanings that cannot be communicated logically but is grounded in our collective human unconscious.

In some ways, many humans can identify with Mary more than they can with Jesus precisely because she was not God! The Gospels attribute no miraculous works or heroic acts to her, simply trust and pure being more than doing. From her first yes to the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:38), to Jesus’ birth itself (Luke 2:7), to her yes at the foot of the cross (John 19:25), and her presence at fiery, windy Pentecost (see Acts 1:14, where she is the only woman named at the first outpouring of the Spirit), Mary appears on cue at key moments of the Gospel narratives. She is Everywoman and Everyman, and that is why I call her the feminine symbol for the universal incarnation.

Summary: Week Twenty-three

Unity and Diversity

June 2 – June 7, 2019

Unitive consciousness—the awareness that we are all one in Love—lays a solid foundation for social critique and acts of justice. (Sunday)

In the Trinity, the three must be maintained as three and understood as different from one another. Yet the infinite trust and flow between them is so constant, so reliable, so true, and so faithful that they are also completely one. (Monday)

Gravity, atomic bonding, orbits, cycles, photosynthesis, ecosystems, force fields, electromagnetic fields, sexuality, human friendship, animal instinct, and evolution all reveal an energy that is attracting all things and beings to one another, in a movement toward ever greater complexity and diversity—and yet ironically also toward unification at ever deeper levels. (Tuesday)

People can meet God within their cultural context but in order to follow God, they must cross into other cultures because that’s what Jesus did in the incarnation itself. —Christena Cleveland (Wednesday)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s observation that eleven o’clock on Sunday mornings is the most segregated hour in America still stands to challenge each congregation to examine the difference in its midst and to develop a higher capacity and moral compass to embrace it and to celebrate it. —Jaqueline Lewis (Thursday)

Nothing exists without these three interdependent energies that emerged from the first flaring forth over 13.8 billion years ago: differentiation or diversity; subjectivity, interiority, or essence; and communion or community and interconnectedness. —Joan Brown (Friday)

Practice: You Belong

At the Center’s spring conference, The Universal Christ, we read the following call and response with 2,000 people gathered in Albuquerque and thousands more online. Later we heard from so many people that this litany of welcome was powerfully moving. Read it aloud to yourself and feel truly welcomed—all of you, even the parts that culture or church have denied. Are there pieces of you not named here that you would like to recognize? Consider sharing your own welcome statement with your faith community and invite others to collaborate in making this vision more complete and actualized.

We would like to let you know that you belong. . . .

People on all parts of the continuum of gender identity and expression, including those who are gay, bisexual, heterosexual, transgender, cisgender, queer folks, the sexually active, the celibate, and everyone for whom those labels don’t apply. We say, “You belong.”

People of African descent, of Asian descent, of European descent, of First Nations descent in this land and abroad, and people of mixed and multiple descents and of all the languages spoken here. We say, “You belong.”

Bodies with all abilities and challenges. Those living with any chronic medical condition, visible or invisible, mental or physical. We say, “You belong.”

People who identify as activists and those who don’t. Mystics, believers, seekers of all kinds. People of all ages. Those who support you to be here. We say, “You belong.”

Your emotions: joy, fear, grief, contentment, disappointment, surprise, and all else that flows through you. We say, “You belong.”

Your families, genetic and otherwise. Those dear to us who have died. Our ancestors and the future ones. The ancestors who lived in this land, in this place, where these buildings are now . . . we honor you through this work that we are undertaking. We say, “You belong.”

People who feel broken, lost, struggling; who suffer from self-doubt and self-judgment. We say, “You belong.”

All beings that inhabit this earth, human or otherwise: the two-legged, the four-legged, winged and finned, those that walk, fly, and crawl, above the ground and below, in air and water. We say, “You belong.”


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