Is God Beyond Gender? The taboo Judeo-Christian Goddess in YHVH

Rabbi unveils a secret of God

http://www.lohud.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2008807210344

By Gary Stern, The Journal News

 The tradition-bound Western image of a he-man, masculine God may already be thousands of years out of date, says a Westchester rabbi who believes he has unlocked the secret to God’s name and androgynous nature.

 Rabbi Mark Sameth contends in a soon-to-be-published article that the four-letter Hebrew name for God – held by Jewish tradition to be unpronounceable since the year 70 – should actually be read in reverse. When the four letters are flipped, he says, the new name makes the sounds of the Hebrew words for “he” and “she.”

 God thus becomes a dual-gendered deity, bringing together all the male and female energy in the universe, the yin and the yang that have divided the sexes from Adam and Eve to Homer and Marge.

 “This is the kind of God I believe in, the kind of God that makes sense to me, in a language that speaks very, very deeply to human aspirations and striving,” Sameth said.

 “How could God be male and not female?”

 Sameth, 54, the spiritual leader of Pleasantville Community Synagogue, first hit on his theory more than a decade ago when he was a rabbinical student.  Since then, he has quietly pieced together clues and supporting evidence from the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament and the vast body of rabbinic literature.

 His article “Who is He? He is She: The Secret Four-Letter Name of God” will appear in the summer issue of the CCAR Journal, published by the Central Conference of American Rabbis, an association of Reform rabbis.

 Sameth’s theory is not as outlandish as it might seem to the uninitiated.

For one thing, Jewish mystical traditions have long found levels of meaning in the Hebrew Bible beyond those that come from a literal or metaphorical reading. For another, there is a deep tradition in Jewish prayer and thinking, particularly among the so-called mystics, of seeking to reconcile the male and female elements in the universe.

 Sameth’s article includes this: “What the mystics called ‘the secret of one’ is the inner unification of the sometimes competing, sometimes complementing masculine and feminine energies that reside within each of us, regardless whether we are male or female.”

 The notion that God is what Sameth calls a “hermaphroditic deity” could energize the growing movement in many religious traditions to present God in gender-neutral terms, particularly in Scripture.

Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, a revered scholar among liberal Jews who has written extensively on Jewish mysticism and spirituality, called Sameth’s article “delicious, thought-provoking and wise.” Kushner is among a small group of scholars and friends with whom Sameth has shared his article in recent weeks.

“I think most people assume the God of the Hebrew Bible is masculine, but Mark, through some sound and clever research, suggests that God may have always been androgynous, ” Kushner said. “This can affect the way we consider holiness and the divine, and invites us to reconsider our own gender identities, which is kind of a bombshell.”

 The Hebrew name of God that is known as the Tetragrammaton – the four letters Yud-Hay-Vov-Hay – appears 6,823 times in the Hebrew Bible. Since early Hebrew script included no vowels, the pronunciation of the name was known by those who heard it.

 According to Sameth’s footnotes, the name was said only by priests after the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, the name was no longer said and the pronunciation lost.

 Jewish tradition has long held that the name was too sacred to articulate.

Jews have generally used Adonai, “the Lord,” in place of the Tetragrammaton.

Various Christian groups have pronounced the name as “Yahweh” or “Jehovah.”

Sameth has no intention of speaking the “reversed” name of God that he has uncovered, preferring to focus on its meaning.

“I still won’t pronounce it, intentionally, as God’s name,” he said. “I’m not suggesting that anyone pronounce the name.”

Sameth became fascinated with Jewish mysticism while a rabbinical student in Jerusalem during the early 1990s. He studied with Moshe Idel, a pre-eminent scholar on mysticism, and learned how medieval Spanish Kabbalists and others uncovered mystical meanings from the Torah that had been shrouded in patterns of words and letters.

Once back in New York, at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the Reform seminary, Sameth was studying the biblical story of the prophet Nathan reprimanding King David for murder, which becomes a turning point for David. Sameth realized that the Hebrew forms of both names, Nathan and David, are palindromes, words with spellings that can be reversed.

It was, as they say, a revelation.

“It’s about reversibility, ” Sameth said. “King David is changing the direction of his life, and the two key characters, their names are palindromes.

What are the chances of that?”

A new zeal for biblical reversibility led Sameth to flip the four Hebrew letters of the unpronounceable Tetragrammaton. [YHVH becomes HVHY] In his head, he heard the Hebrew words hu and hi. That’s “he/she” in English.

And he felt connected to a long line of Jewish mystics who have mused about the male and female coming together.

“I really believed that I had found something significant, ” Sameth said.

“Then I did 10 years of study to see if I could find support for it.”

Much of his article consists of weaving together clues and examples from Jewish Scripture and wisdom that offer historical context for his thesis. For example, Sameth contends that the Zohar – a medieval, mystical Torah commentary – was referring to God’s dual-gender “when it suggested that the sin of Adam was that he ruined the marriage between the feminine and masculine halves of God by divorcing himself from the feminine.”

He also writes: “We realize now that the secret was almost revealed by the 13th-century Torah commentator Rabbeinu Bachya, who makes note of every four-word cluster in the Torah whose rashei teivot, or initial letters, spell out the Tetragrammaton in reverse.”

Rabbi Jonathan Stein, editor of the CCAR Journal, was on vacation and not available for comment.

Sameth has been the only rabbi at the decade-old Pleasantville Community Synagogue, a self-described “trans-denominational” congregation that includes elements of Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist Judaism. Congregants come from many backgrounds and communities to the synagogue, which has become known for hearty singing and dancing during services.

Talking recently about his years of study to grasp the meaning of God’s name, Sameth had to stop, swallow hard and take a breath when describing what it’s like to receive sparks of insight from the great Jewish thinkers of long ago.

“It is a form of transcendence to be connected in that way,” he said.

Sameth doesn’t believe that he has stumbled on a previously unknown understanding of God’s name, but that he has been able to connect the dots in a fresh way.

Those who find meaning in his work, he said, may encounter a different understanding of God that is comforting to feminists and those on many spiritual journeys. They may also read the Torah differently.

“If this interpretation is correct, it says that the Torah is a mystical or esoteric text,” he said. “The mystics have been saying all these years that the text conceals more than it reveals. It is structured with different levels of meaning and reveals itself over time. We’re talking about one tradition that goes all the way back.”

Katherine Kurs, a religion scholar who teaches at New School University and is an associate minister at West-Park (Presbyterian) Church in Manhattan, said that the image of God presented by Sameth will have great appeal to many people who are searching for spiritual meaning.

“Mark’s unveiling is part of a mystic lineage that presents a prismatic experience of God, that says there are ways of experiencing God that contain and explode categories simultaneously, ” said Kurs, who has known Sameth since they studied together almost 20 years ago. “This God is not a male or even a female but a male-female or female-male, a God that holds tension and paradox, a full-spectrum bandwidth God.”

Sameth has shared his image of a dual-gendered God with the seventh- and eighth-graders he teaches at his synagogue. He said they’ve been very receptive, which isn’t surprising because they are growing up in a post-modern age.

“As post-moderns, we’ve been conditioned to a different relationship with language,” he said. “That’s why there is all this interest now in Jewish mysticism.”

He wonders how, 2,000 years from now, people will understand the final chapter of “Ulysses,” which includes no punctuation.

Will they try to add punctuation, believing that it’s been lost? Or will they grasp that James Joyce knew what he was doing?

“Joyce was playing with language, using language to play with the medium,” Sameth said. “And the Torah isn’t just about Noah taking the animals, twosies by twosies. If that’s what the Torah was all about, how could it have captivated Western civilization for 3,000 years? There had to be more.”

RESPONSES TO THE ABOVE:

— In spiritwithoutborders@yahoogroups.com, Rachel wrote:

> The only problem with the article is that G-d has never been seen as male in Judaism; calling G-d “He” is convention. There is no neutral gender word in Hebrew. G-d is neither (not both but neither) male or female in the Jewish religion; having no physical attributes or even emotions as we understand it. When it talks about humans being created in G-d’s image it means spiritually. G-d has always been spoken of in the feminine as well as masculine, for example as a mother or father, as a master or mistress (when we are referred to as bondsmen or bondswomen).

> I don’t understand a Rabbi who hasn’t learned that. It is a bit odd to me.

Katia writes:  Seems to me the very fact there is no gender neutral word in ancient Hebrew, the original language of theology, basically proves there was no gender neutral God in Judaism.

GLENN KING responded to Rachel by posting the following to the DivineMother forum.

Rachael, I am certain that you are right in stating that the formal theology of Judaism states that God is beyond all aspects of gender. That is also the position of Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and liberal Protestantism. My problem is that I doubt that few people in their hearts of hearts really believe this. I also suspect that few Jews historically have believed it either.

      First let me explain a few things. It is certain that the biblical God is not a male in the same physical way that a human man is or as Greek god such as Zeus. The god of the Israelites did not relate to other gods and to human women as did the Greek gods. Clearly the bible discourages that point of view.

       However after stating that, it is clear that in most respects the biblical writers saw Yahweh is in a deep way as male. “He” is Lord and King and never lady and Queen. G-d has mostly “male” roles of ruler, judge, warrior, etc. It is true that sometimes this male aspect slips and in few places he is seen as like a female eagle, or a woman in labor. But in general the male images hold.

       There is other evidence of this. G-d is often called Elohim in the bible. My understanding is that Elohim is the masculine plural of Eloah which  can quite properly be translated as “goddess.” Yet the verbs associated with this are always masculine and singular. My point is that the biblical writers had a multiple of opportunities to dispel the idea that G-d is some how intrinsically wrapped up with maleness. Yet the writers repeatedly do not do this. Thus I would argue that the idea that the biblically male language of G-d in the bible is purely conventional is incorrect. On the contrary the male language of god in the Bible betrays the very strong patriarchal culture of Israel which believed that if god has to be imaged as personal then G-d has to be male even if not conventionally so.

      I would also suggest, whatever the rabbis’ point of view, that they were not the authors of the biblical text. The understanding of the rabbis, most of them wrote and commented on the Torah after the time of Jesus, is not necessarily the view of earlier pre biblical Israel i.e. of the period 1300 BCE to about 600 BCE. It seems that monotheism only fully triumphed in Judah after the exile. Thus the understanding of the majority of Israel’s people and of her elites were not doubt quite different than that of the latter rabbis.  It is also obvious that the latter Cabbalist Medieval writers had a different point of view. To a large degree their theology was that the High Holy One, the King, had lost his connection with his Shekinah i.e. Queen or daughter who was in exile with Israel. The Shekinah, the Sabbath Queen, etc were all seen as basically female. I am of course aware that latter day theologians and philosophers have argued that all of this Kabalistic language was all merely metaphoric not to be taken literally. To defend this language I am sure that even the Kabbalists themselves stated that it was all just metaphor. The problem is why use all of this metaphor if it just confuses the issue. Why talk as if there is in fact a female and male presence of God if God is only a singular, sexless “spiritual” (what ever that means) being.

      My real suspicion is of course that these people did have a radically different vision of G-d  which was not compatible with Rabbinic orthodoxy. Thus what they did is cover it up with their talk of allegory and metaphor. It would not be very pleasant to be exiled even from the exiles.

       I think of course that the same thing has happened within Christianity in relationship with Mary. Official Catholic and Orthodox theology claim that Mary’s role as Queen of Heaven, Co mediatrix and of her power and Glory are all just borrowed powers from Jesus to whom all real power and glory resides. Thus all of Mary’s power and glory  is simply at bottom not real.

The problem with this is why in fact would God even permit this. If this is all there is to Mary, then Protestantism makes all the sense in the world. Of course again I think that all of this talk is subterfuge to hide the real fact that psychologically and really Catholics love and adore Mary in ways very similar to how the old Pagans used to worship Isis, Inanna and other goddesses. The point of this being that official doctrines of religions often hide as much as they reveal. Often they hid radical realities rather that admitting the radical truth of the real situation.  –Glenn

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Ricardo from our local Meetup wrote:

This documentary talks about this topic in a very interesting way:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7261415312649669138

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BURL HALL RESPONDS TO GLENN LINE BY LINE:

Glenn King writes:

Rachael, I am certain that you are right in stating that the formal theology of Judaism states that God is beyond all aspects of gender. That is also the position of Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and liberal Protestantism. My problem is that I doubt that few people in their hearts of hearts really believe this. I also suspect that few Jews historically have believed it either.

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BURL responds: 

I think to take gender out of the Godhead is to deny our relationship to the greater whole.  When I see the Sun’s rays entering my cells and feel them unfold their potential by absorbing those rays, then I tend to see my cells as acting in a female role and the sun in a male.  In other words, gender is reflective of cosmic process.

Another piece is that if you read other myths and scriptures from throughout the world, no other culture is shy about describing that which is before manifestation (i.e., the Unmanifest) in the Feminine.  The Feminine is the container of potential, be that potential be in the form of a seed in the ground, an egg in a mammal or bird, or as hidden knowledge in the depths of our minds.

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>>First let me explain a few things. It is certain that the biblical God is not a male in the same physical way that a human man is or as Greek god such as Zeus.

Genesis 1:27 reads: “God created humanity is “his” image, male and female created he them.” However after stating that, it is clear that in most respects the biblical writers saw Yahweh is in a deep way as male. “He” is Lord and King and never lady and Queen. G-d has mostly “male” roles of ruler, judge, warrior, etc. It is true that sometimes this male aspect slips and in few places he is seen as like a female eagle, or a woman in labor. But in general the male images hold.

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This change could also be seen as a holographic tidal wave on this planet.  … all one movement of one tidal wave that will eventually rescind and calm down (will we become extinct in the process, or transform? is the question).  Your work, my work, the work of the people in this group is to be the beginning of this transformation.  So is the work of the locavores or local food movements and so on.  While you may not see the relationship of these two movements (and many others), I do.  They are one wave that hopefully will gain momentum (according to Sophia’s desires which operate much like the moon on the water (and our bodies) to replace these dark ages.

 

> Thus I would argue that the idea that the biblically male language of G-d in the
> bible is purely conventional is incorrect. On the contrary the male language
> of god in the Bible betrays the very strong patriarchal culture of Israel
> which believed that if god has to be imaged as personal then G-d has to be male
> even if not conventionally so.

Looking at this holographically, I would also say that seeing God as purely male reflected a shift towards more externalized thinking.  We have wars because we are more interested in conquering and controlling them over there then we are about developing our inner potential.  This is what Sophia is, in my opinion.  she is the infinite inner world of all creatures and contains all potentials that unfold according the interactions of Her son and husband, Eros, or Creative Desire.  Or as Hermes said (I’m paraphrasing), “Sophia is the container of potential and Eros initiates that unfolding.” Hence, in sexual reproduction, the egg exists as a potential person that unfolds as a body upon the union with sperm.  Or, in the Stanza’s of Dyzan “Darkness (female) radiates Light and Light drops one solitary ray into the Mother’s depths.  The eternal egg thrills and divides…”  And, wa-la here we are having this conversation.

> It is also obvious that the latter Cabbalist Medieval writers had a different point

> of view. To a large degree their theology was that the High Holy One, the

> King, had lost his connection with his Shekinah i.e. Queen or daughter who was in

> exile with Israel.

 

When you get down to it, the Holy One entails the knowledge of unity in diversity.  The mystical aspect of the people existing when the U.S. came to be knew this in their “E Pluribus Unim,” IN UNITY DIVERSITY.  There is unity in diversity and diversity in unity.  As the chaos theorists now realize, this is one Planet that operates as a single organism.  We, in other words, are cells in the Planet and are not the Kings or Queens of it.  Due to our arrogance and our “growth without end” mentality, we have become cancerous cells..this is what cancer is, growth gone wild.

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The Shekinah, the Sabbath Queen, etc were all seen as

> basically female. I am of course aware that latter day theologians and

> philosophers have argued that all of this Kabalistic language was all merely metaphoric

> not to be taken literally.

Ah!  Merely metaphoric!  Metaphor according to Burl and Gregory Baetson IS the language of the universe.  Metaphor is the language that connects.  If we look at the external orientation of our modern day, we can see the male externalized genitals.  We are more interested in invading other countries and controlling the population (politicians, scientists, etc) then we are our inner world.  Yet, it is in our inner world that a new world can unfold.  It is only by tapping into the Feminine that we can create a peaceful planet.

Hence, one of Sophia’s names is Salem, Shalom or Jerusalem meaning peace.  Giving birth to Sophia (i.e., the Daughter), we give birth to peace on Earth.

* * * * * * *

To defend this language I am sure that even the

> Kabbalists themselves stated that it was all just metaphor. The problem is why use

> all of this metaphor if it just confuses the issue.

* * * * * * * *

Metaphor is holographic.  Understanding one, you understand the all. Gregory Baetson says that metaphor is Nature’s language. I can figure every one of our individualized and creative paths through the Wizard of Oz.  The Wizard of Oz is metaphor.  One person argued with me about Baum’s story being political.  “Well, I said, that’s true too.”

Now, how could I say that?  Easy, in my holographic universe, the political interpretation of this man was one with my spiritual [interpretation].  The sun’s rays shining through a prism breaks down into a multitude of colors.  Each interpretation is one strand of color existing in one ray of Light emanating from the Womb of Sophia.  (Baum states that the story just erupted into his consciousness.  Need I say more about Sophia’s hand being there?)  We are all Dorothy in Oz (manifestation) seeking Kansas (Heaven or the land of non-duality as reflected in the flat greyness).

>         I think of course that the same thing has happened within

> Christianity in relationship with Mary. Official Catholic and Orthodox theology claim

> that Mary’s role as Queen of Heaven, Co mediatrix and of her power and Glory are

> all just borrowed powers from Jesus to whom all real power and glory resides.

> Thus all of Mary’s power and glory   is simply at bottom not real.

 

Another slant on this is that Mary, Marie, means Ocean (marine, marina, etc).  When the Spirit moved over the face of the Deep in Genesis, the Holy Spirit came upon Marie in the New Testament. Hence, the Light of the world was born, the Word.  Again, this happens beyond time and space, in infinity, and as such is as much a possibility for each one of us as it is for some externalized woman living during the Roman times.  “Of what use Gabriel your message to Marie / unless you deliver that same message to me,” a mystic once said.

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> The problem with this is why in fact would God even permit this. If this is all there is to Mary, then Protestantism makes all the sense in the world. Of course again I think that all of this talk is subterfuge to hide the real fact

> that psychologically and really Catholics love and adore Mary in ways very > similar to how the old Pagans used to worship Isis, Inanna and other goddesses.

Ya just can’t kill your love for your Mother.

 

> The point of this being that official doctrines of religions often hide as much

> as they reveal. Often they hid radical realities rather that admitting the 

> radical truth of the real situation.

 — Glenn

 

Or, is it that we don’t understand the language in our literal, empirical, results oriented, society.  Doctrines are living documents.  The Bible, the Rig Veda, the Tao Te Ching, the Upanishads, etc are all living, interactive beings.  There words are seminal in unfolding potential within you.  They are not to be taken literally, for to take them that way would be to kill them.  Rather, one should dance with all religious writings and in hearing other interpretations, one should dance with those also.  As the Three Musketeers stated, “Its all for one and one for all.”  In the diversity of interpretations is the mirror of the Holy One….Sophia who is male and female in Her divine essence.  Her kiss is Her Son, Eros.  Every time He visits me, I create an article, a book, or an insight.  What is unmanifest becomes manifest in me when I am in His arms.  And who is His arms if not Her extension?

–Burl Hall, author of Sophia’s Web

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LORE WRITES:

I would go further and note that this claim of a genderless God only arises when one is discussing the Goddess. As long as the pronouns remain masculine, no one makes this argument. It is just another way of keeping the Goddess from being discussed. Their argument can be boiled down to this: If God is genderless, there is no point in discussing the sacred feminine because it either doesn’t exist or is included in the masculine references.

This is the same argument made against using genderless titles (ie flight attendant, chairperson) back when the second wave of feminism began to demand that women’s titles be the equal of men’s. The argument that the male title actually includes the female was quite popular with those who wanted to resist feminine empowerment. This argument went so far as to claim that the laws didn’t need to be changed to include women because the words “man” and “men” actually included women — this despite the exact opposite argument had been made to deny any rights to women for centuries.

In “The Goddess vs. The Alphabet,” Leonard Schlain argues that the Hebrew ban on images was a direct attempt to erase the Goddess. The Goddess religions that preceded patriarchal monotheism made liberal use of images, especially sculpture. When we understand this, the God of Moses banning all “graven images” takes on a new context.

 

We can even argue that the concept a genderless God arose from the need to eliminate the Goddess. The Goddess worshippers were too powerful to [get rid of] all at once, therefore they began to indoctrinate the masses with the idea that God has no gender. This would have developed over decades or centuries until no one remembered that the “genderless” God (expressed as male) was needed to eliminate the feminine Goddess.

 

The people that claim God is genderless are disturbed when I use exclusively feminine pronouns and references when speaking of deity.  If God is genderless, then my use of these sacred feminine words shouldn’t matter. It is obvious they do, thus it is obvious that despite their claim God is genderless, they are accustomed to thinking of God as masculine and are not comfortable with thinking of God as feminine.

But in my world, this argument about how the Hebrews and rabbis think of God is moot. I was raised Christian where God is very definitely male. The RCC made official pronouncements to this effect just recently, going so far as to denounce and deny all marriages whose marriage rites contained gender-neutral language. The Sistine Chapel is very clear: the image of God is powerfully male. I wasn’t raised RCC but their images bleed over into all Christian religions. No traditional Christian would make the argument that God is genderless nor do they easily accept the idea of the sacred feminine, even in the abstract. Even those who claim God is genderless do not easily accept having the sacred feminine being plainly addressed or represented alongside their easy acceptance of the sacred masculine address or representation (ie using God and Goddess equally or displaying both images in equal prominence). This is why they engage in their genderless God rhetoric. Discussion of the Goddess or any version of the sacred feminine makes them uneasy, therefore I should not feel free to use it.

As long as we’re willing to engage in their argument — that God is genderless therefore we don’t need to use any sacred feminine references, we are reacting on the defensive and allowing their definition of deity to be the primary definition of deity. If indeed their God is genderless, my use of the sacred feminine in any of Her variations should not bother them. As long as they argue otherwise, it is an indication that their genderless claims are denied by their passionate need to keep me from referring to the sacred feminine.

When they no longer care, then I would believe their God is indeed genderless.

I don’t really care what the ancients believed or how they thought of God. I prefer to claim the sacred feminine alongside the sacred masculine, therefore their preferences are meaningless to me.

Lore continues:

At 11:36 8/24/08, Burl wrote:

>I think to take gender out of the Godhead is to deny our

>relationship to the greater whole.

It is not by accident that we yearn to identify with the sacred feminine. It is the completion we need to have a healthy relationship with all of life and the universe. Gender is indeed reflective of the cosmic process, as you noted. It is so integral that it is represented in every species, even those that are androgynous. As a species, we cannot imagine life without either gender. Even our material items are referred to as gendered (ie a ship is “she”). Trying to make a monotheistic deity one gender or genderless defies this deep natural instinct and creates imbalance in our thought processes.

It also creates a masculinized world that devalues and fears anything associated with the feminine while worshipping anything associated with the masculine. This worship of all things masculine is what allows our society to glorifies the mass extinction of others (including other species) via war, genocide, rape of the earth, etc.

Since creativity is viewed as feminine, it too is feared and devalued. We cannot make progress without creativity, yet men who display prowess in overtly creative endeavors (ie an artist) are ridiculed as “feminine” and shunned.

There is no way to have a balanced society that strictly worships a monotheistic deity that is either one gender or genderless. It is an abnormal and deformed way of viewing the universe and our world experience. Like all things that are deformed, this abnormal belief cannot create the balance and acceptance of Self, Earth and Universe that we desperately need.

–Lore

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Katia wrote later:

I really like the new theory by Rabbi Sameth about YHVH being reversed to say He/She.   He/She makes alot of sense for the Divine’s name, and the major names of God in our very Bibles literally mean just that.   Elohim means “God and Goddess” and Yahweh/Yahovah/YHVH is a combination of the God Yah and Goddess Havah (Havah is Hebrew for “Eve”, and means Mother of All). 

The Tetragrammaton name of the Divine, written YHVH, has the added benefit of meaning God/Goddess no matter which way you look at it — front to back or back to front.   No matter how you flip it, there is Goddess-and-God simultaneously.

Magdalene Podcasts, Martin Luther, Married Jesus, Dan Brown, Mormons

Authors Joan Norton, Margaret Starbird and Burl Hall and the rest of us were discussing Martin Luther and the Sacred Feminine on our GoddessChristians forum.  Margaret wrote in as follows:

Among other strange opinions of Martin Luther, I stumbled into a quote of his from “Table Talks” to the effect that Jesus had affairs with three women: the women at the well, the woman taken in adultery, and Mary Magdalene.  I found this really interesting because it appears to me to be a “garbled” reference to Cathar beliefs that Mary Magdalene, the woman at the well, and the woman taken in adultery were all the same person (one woman–not three)…. But Luther was suggesting that Jesus had promiscuous relationships with all three! Pretty bizarre behavior, in my view!–in a time and place where people had strong taboos about promiscuity and were stoned for less….and from a rabbi who warned that to think lustfully about a woman was tantamount to committing “adultery in one’s heart.”

> VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – In the latest Vatican broadside against
> “The Da Vinci Code,” a leading cardinal says Christians should
> respond to the book and film with legal action because both offend
> Christ and the Church he founded.

Since Dan Brown derived his basic ideas about Mary Magdalene and Jesus from my “Woman with the Alabaster Jar,” I would like to say that when I wrote that book I was coming from the heart of the Roman Catholic Church and a charismatic prayer group that included two priests and six lay people to which I had belonged for about 15 years at the time. 

These people were encouraging me and praying for me while I was doing my research because we had been shown as a community that there was something important missing from the foundations of Christianity that had to do with the “denigrated Feminine.”

I gave my “Alabaster Jar” manuscript to my Roman Catholic priest/pastor–and to two Protestant ministers in 1991- before I ever dreamed of sending it to a publisher. All three of these clergymen knew me well and encouraged me to publish my book. In fact, the Catholic priest told me, “This could heal the Church.” I offered “Alabaster Jar” as a gift to the Church–one that would enable the patriarchy to embrace the “Feminine” embodied in Mary Magdalene and welcome her home with rejoicing! What a shame that they cannot see the healing that would inevitably flow from the “nuptials of the Lamb and his Bride.”

Carl Jung states in “Answer to Job” that it is incongruous to visualize Jesus embracing a church filled with people. He needs to embrace a woman… This image is beautifully expressed in the stained glass window from the Kilmore Church at Dervaig, a town on the Isle of Mull, (posted on my website) which shows Jesus and Mary “hand-fasted” (clasping right hands)–a symbol for marriage in the Christian liturgy…the “Bride” represents her land and people–as in the ancient metaphor of Yahweh’s undying love for his people….

There was never any intent to attack Jesus…. I was trying to “heal the wasteland” that ensues when the “Feminine” principle is denied and defamed, forced into exile and silenced….

In the triptych above the inner door at Mary Magdalene’s basilica at Vézeley, France, (the “Madeleine”), the left hand of Jesus is missing-probably vandalized, although it may have just broken off. What an incredible reminder that he can’t be “whole” without her! Since Judaism in the first century didn’t have a word for “bachelor” –and the word the Jews now use is “ravak”–“empty”–maybe we need to revisit the foundations of the Christian faith and restore the “lost Bride.”

peace and light,
Margaret
“Mary Magdalene, Bride in Exile”
http://www.margaretstarbird.net

 

Joan Norton, author of Mary Magdalene Within, responded:

    Hi Margaret,

    I wonder if Martin Luther’s  interpretation of the three women as Jesus’ “involvements” influenced Joseph Smith’s Mormon revelations that Jesus had more than one wife?  I know they put the  ritual of the bridal chamber at the center of things, but with the extra added twist of more than one wife.

     I put up a new podcast meditation today called “Beloveds in the Garden” at http://marymagdalenewithin.podomatic.com    and I don’t mean Jesus and three Beloveds! (chuckle)

  xoJoan

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And author Burl Hall wrote in with the following intriguing thoughts:

You say it all, Margaret.  In my work, I have come to the opinion that the wasteland we have created in the environment (endless wars, ecological destruction, sensationalist medias, etc.) is a mirror to the wasteland of our minds. I talk somewhat of the surface level ego mind, or empirical/rational thought as surface level with deep thought, the Feminine, lying underneath. By underneath I don’t mean this as a power relationship.  Indeed, Tehom, the Depths of Genesis 1:2, is Feminine and is the foundations of the Universe and ultimately the Mother of Light (Manifestation).  Furthermore, it is She that becomes this world.  As the Hindu Ramakrishna puts it, “The Unmanifest (Being…Tehom…Brahman….Yahweh…Marie…Tao) shines forth as Shakti (the Goddess, Divine Energy, Sophia)…and Shakti takes form as this entire universe.”

Sometimes when I close my eyes I watch images dance in my mind.  They tend to shapeshift and will often play with me as if I were an external being.  They are so much fun. And, they appear aware of me as much as I am aware of them. … When I watch these images dance (they do indeed have a life of their own that is beyond my controlling ego) I realize they are the creation of something deeper…furthermore, I realize that the power within me that is creating this wonderful display is not separate from that Power that births, supports and dissolves the cosmos.  To “see” that Power, I go behind the images and into the Darkness, the Darkness upon the face of the Deep.  (Mary or Marie also means Ocean as per the terms Marine, Marina, etc.).

So, when Sophia (the Agent of Becoming, the Holy Spirit) came upon Tehom as the Holy Spirit in Genesis and the Holy Spirit moved upon Marie in the New Testament, are we perhaps repeating the same story?  “The Unmanifest (Marie) shines forth as Shakti (Sophia) and Shakti is simply the luminous darkness of the Unmanifest,” Ramakrishna says. Or as Paul McCarney says, “When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me.  Speaking words of Wisdom, Let It Be.”  Mary and Sophia are akin to water and wetness, they are not two.  McCartney may not have been consciously aware of this….but, hey, Sophia speaks beneath the ego.  Anyhow, the way I see this relation of Mary the Magdeline (She of the Temple Towers is a definition?) as Wife and Mary the Virgin as Mother.  These are not, from a non-historical perspective, two Women.  From a mystical dimension, the birth from Marie is reflective of Motherhood of Woman while the Fate function of Woman is reflected in the Magdeline as Wife or Bride.  I look at this as the Goddess as Mother and the Goddess as Fate.  One is birth from Woman, the Unmanifest, the other is the return Home, to the Unmanifest.  Women in their physical bodies mirror this cosmic power of birth, maintanence and fate or dissolution.

This too speaks of Jung with his notion of the Feminine as the Unconscious.  I do not see the Feminine as Unconscious as much as suppressed.  When I think of Sophia, I think of Her in my body and think, “Now I don’t know how my heart is beating or how fast, yet She is in my body monitoring all of this and through a complicated system of communications is making changes.”  This same intelligence is worldwide and, indeed, universe wide.  Earth is an integrated system every bit as much as our body.  Furthermore, the surface level intelligence doesn’t know how to listen (which manifest in the words of many women who say that men don’t know how to listen…this is true for how we relate to women AND our inner worlds, which are suppressed at worst or at best turned into media propaganda (e.g., advertising…this is one reason we have created a wasteland).

Suppressing the Feminine externally is the suppression of the Feminine internally.  I recall as a child how many artists, true artists, were ridiculed as being effeminite. Why?  Because they are able to tap into the wild, unruly and surprisingly rebellious or evolutionary Feminine Intelligence.  Deep Femininty is a danger to the status quo for She is the agent of change.  As the Book of Wisdom says, “She renews the world.”  All things change and transform in accordance to Sophia.  This is why the Feminine scares us.  It means dissolution of the old and the birth of the new. 

Anyway, you probably weren’t looking for all of this in a response.  Its the prozac!  Thanks for your post and your work.

–Burl

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I posted some thoughts about the Vatican saying Magdalene and Jesus being married is an insult, a blasphemy against Christianity and that Christians should rise up and riot, bring lawsuits, etc. against those who believe these harmless (and inspiring, if you ask me) things.  I wrote:

Yeah, notice how they are quick to say Christ and the “Church he founded” have been gravely insulted by the suggestion he may have been a full man with a woman and kids in his life yet, yet, YET, they do nothing when those horrible paintings of someone urinating on the crucified Jesus, or defecating on him or Mary are displayed prominently in famous NY (and other city) art galleries.  That is one reason to call a “Christian Fatwa” if you ask me and is similar in theory (altho not degree!) to the Mohammed cartoons.  Just imagine if urine and feces had been done to Mohammed.  They freaked when the pages of a copy of the Koran might have been used as toilet paper when Muslims (and others) burn Torahs, Bibles and flags all the time.

Don’t get me started…. but rock on Margaret for tellin’ ’em like it is — the Church needs the “denigrated Feminine” RESTORED and it ain’t an insult to nobody, least of all Jesus/Yeshua.

Katia