Sunday, May 17, 2015

Blog-to-Book Project Invitation

Hello faithful readers of Maternal Indigo! I have just begun a new blog project designed for creating a full length book on the themes found here. It's working title is Wisdom's Dwelling. I've been an official member of the Catholic Church for two years now, and I've continued to research the topic of Marian devotion and the Sacred Feminine in Christianity. Please join me at to continue the journey.  I welcome reader feedback as I put my rough draft into a finished book form. My aim to flesh out a truly Catholic Sophiology that is directly tied to Marian tradition, in light of contemporary thought.

I had to get to the point where I am living a sapiential Marian Catholicism before I could determine the direction of the book, which I am planning to be a series of 53 reflections in honor of the 53 Hail Marys of the Holy Rosary. Don't forget to sign up to follow by email at Wisdom's Dwelling so you can read along as I go. See you there!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Sacred Feminine Conclusions

One of my New Year's resolutions is to produce a manuscript on the topics covered in this blog, using these writings as a springboard for a book. I have overloaded myself with the theology of the sacred feminine written by others. Now it is time for deep contemplation and a focus on personal experience. The time draws near for me to enter fully into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil, and so will end this first phase of the journey. But it is far from over, I am sure.

What can I conclude for you at this point? Jesus revealed that we should call God our Abba, Father. And we should call Mary our Mother. The Word of God and the Church's Tradition also reveal a divine nature that is feminine, one in perfect union with the masculine nature of God with which Christians are most familiar. The Word (Logos) and Wisdom (Sophia in Greek) are one. Jesus is both Word and Wisdom. At the heart of the Trinity is Holy Wisdom, the feminine nature of God, held in the bosom of the Father.

 La Paloma by Holly Sierra

The Holy Spirit, in the "Cosmic Dance", is the Person who proceeds from the Father as eternal Bride and from the Son as eternal Mother in the mystical sense, though all members of the Trinity are the perfect union of masculine and feminine. And since Mary is the focus of our image of spiritual Motherhood, it is she who leads us to her Son, our Savior, and to the Divine Sophia. The Blessed Mother works in a unique union with the Holy Spirit of Wisdom to intercede for us, to be our Advocate and Mediatrix of All Grace; indeed, as Co-redemptrix. In my devotions, I call the Holy Spirit by the Hebrew names, Ruah Ha Kodesh and Ruah Elohim, and sometimes use the Greek appellation for Wisdom, Sophia, keeping in my heart the knowledge of the feminine nature united with the masculine in our Creator.

What is needed then, from my perspective, is a deep, sapiential Marian devotion. A Sophian Marian devotion takes us profoundly into the mystery that links the divine with all of creation. It is the ability to see God in all of nature and in the human soul. It is to value equally God's male and female images in humanity, and to fully embrace stewardship of our Earth. It does not deny the goodness of the body, but rather honors the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit, exemplified and supremely manifested in the Virgin Mary. Under the protection of her mantle, we too may become holy--sacred vessels of the divine.

 Madre Natura by Holly Sierra

Thank you, dear readers, for following me on this journey to the heart of the sacred feminine. I may be back from time to time to update you on new developments and the progress of my book. In the meantime, go to Mass, pray the Rosary daily, and contemplate the meaning of what has been here revealed. To Jesus, Word and Wisdom, through our Holy Mary, Mother of God!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Deification of the Virgin

I found the following excerpt from a blog which illuminates the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary:

"It was a class in Anatomy and Physiology, and the lesson on microchimerism, that concretely illustrated for me those two dogmas. Learning that every child leaves within his mother a microscopic bit of himself—and that it remains within her forever—the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was instantly illuminated.

Mary, then, was indeed a tabernacle for the divinity—not for a limited time, but for all of her life. Thus the Immaculate Conception made and makes perfect sense: God, who is all-good is also completely pure; the vessel in which he resides, then, must also be pure, or it would not be able to sustain all of that light.

And this relates directly to the Assumption of Mary as well. In the psalms we read 'you will not suffer your beloved to undergo corruption.' Christ’s divine body did not undergo corruption, but ascended into heaven; it follows that his mother’s body, which contained a cellular component of that divinity—and a particle of God is God, entire—would not be permitted to undergo corruption, as well.

It could not be otherwise. The God particle, commingled with humanity, necessarily preserves humanity, and calls it to himself. This is incarnational. It is eucharistic, from the beginning. It is our life, conceived in light" (

Next is an excerpt given in explanation of the difference between being divine by nature and deification by participation:

To sum up simply, Mary is a goddess by participating in divinity, through grace, to a higher extent than most humans can or will. However, all saints (that is, all who arrive in heaven) do and so Mary with all the saints could rightly be called gods and goddesses. But this in no way compromises monotheism of the one triune God, whose divinity is through itself (found in comments on the blog, Mary and Mariology: Divinizing Mary?).

These both struck me as interesting because the Catholic Church has often been accused of divinizing Mary and elevating her to the level of a goddess. In the case of the first excerpt, the only disagreement I might have is the argument that a particle of God is God entire. But a particle of God is certainly divine, and modern science sheds light on and validates Catholic teaching regarding Mary. As I have discussed before, Charlene Spretnak posed the question in Missing Mary as to whether the Blessed Mother would have been ontologically changed into a quasi-divine (or semi-divine) being by virtue of carrying Jesus in her womb, and the author implied that she would have.

The second excerpt reflects the theology of early Church Fathers who said that "God became man so that man might become gods." This means that people are not divine by nature but have the potential to be deified through participation in the divine nature. Rather than referring to Mary as semi-divine, I believe she should be understood as a divinized human being, with her deification being utterly unique by virtue of her Immaculate Conception and her physical motherhood of God the Son. I agree with Spretnak that modern science gives evidence that the traditional, cosmological, biblicalplus veneration of Mary and her full spiritual presence needs to be returned to the Church. Mary is officially honored with the unique status of hyperdulia by the Church, and so she cannot be relegated to being merely another in the communion of saints or just a model of discipleship.

The Church does not call the saints gods and goddesses, so I would discourage that practice. But I do think there is too much stigma attached to the word goddess. The name "God" typically implies a male deity. In polytheistic religions, there were multiple gods and goddesses with varying ranks of power. In Catholicism, there is one God in three persons, and this God is neither male nor female, but pure spirit. "Goddess" simply means a female deity. If the masculine version can be used to describe the one, true Creator, then why is there such repulsion in the idea of the Almighty being called Goddess? The argument is that "goddess" implies a polytheistic, pagan religion, but the same could be argued that pagans also used the word "god".  In fact, there was a monotheistic religion pre-dating the Judeo-Christian tradition which believed in an entirely feminine trinity (the maiden, mother, and crone). One interpretation of history is that the patriarchal conquerors of the people who worshipped the Great Mother created an all-male version of this trinity. The idea of God in three persons is correct, but both variations are incomplete.

This is why devotion to Mary is so important, as well as the revival of the ancient Wisdom tradition of the Old Testament that was also practiced by the early Church, in which God was understood to have a feminine dimension. We need religion that honors the sacred feminine and the bridal-maternal aspects of divinity. We need to see the hidden Sophia, who is part and parcel of Christ, and who is manifested in His human Mother.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Praying for Newtown

Today at Mass, instead of a homily, Father led us in praying a decade of the Rosary.  This is in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut on Friday, which has left our nation reeling with shock and grief.  Father talked about how sometimes the rote, memorized prayers can serve us best, giving a place for our hearts to cry out and to rest when there are simply no words.  I read a list of the victims' names today, among them 20 first grade students.  Seeing the names makes this tragedy so much more real and personal.  I can think of no better way to pray than to Jesus through our spiritual Mother on the beads of the Holy Rosary.  In a crisis we turn to our mothers, and I understand a little better now why Jesus shares his own Mother with us.  She understands this deep sorrow most of all.  Blessed be these little ones who have inherited the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed be the heroes who gave their lives to save them.  Bless their families and the broken heart of this country.  Lord we pray, help us heal, help us to understand, help us to trust in your mercy.  Grant us your grace through our Blessed Mother Mary.  Amen.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Mother in the Trinity

“I, the fiery life of divine essence, am aflame beyond the beauty of the meadows.  I gleam in the waters, and I burn in the sun, moon and stars . . . . I awaken everything to life.”  --the voice of God revealed in the visions of St. Hildegard von Bingen and recorded in her book, Liber Divinorum

Just to explicate a little further on the Motherhood of God in the Trinity, I will use a human analogy.  The feminine principle, which I will call the "Bride", is contained within the Father.  Human marriage symbolizes this divine union, a God who has both a masculine and a feminine nature.  The Son is generated from this union.  The Holy Spirit comes into personhood as the maternal Love proceeding from the Father and Son, as a woman (bride) becomes fully mother only once her child is born.  The Father, then, is also inherently "Mother".  Ruah Ha Kodesh, the Holy Spirit, can be mystically understood as the womb of God.  St. Hildegard of Bingen, recently made Doctor of the Church, saw the universe as an egg contained in the womb of God:

Hildegard, called the Sibyl of the Rhine, saw a vision from God of divine, feminine beings who were named Sapientia, Ecclesia, and Caritas.  These Latin words, respectively, mean Wisdom, Church, and Love.  While orthodox in her Catholicism, God appeared to Hildegard as Mother.  Her trinity of the divine feminine is almost exactly akin to my vision of Sophia at the heart of the Trinity, with the correspondences of Holy Wisdom, Holy Mother Church, and Shekinah (divine presence/glory cloud).  Surely Love is the divine Presence.  Ecclesia revealed herself to Hildegard as "the true, hidden Church".  Again the theme of the hidden quality of the feminine nature of God comes to the fore.  The following poem seems to indicate the feminine trinity within the Trinity.  Note the third wing which "hovers everywhere", a clear reference to the action of Ruah Elohim, the Spirit of God. 

O power of wisdom!
You encompassed the cosmos,
Encircling and embracing all in one living orbit
With your three wings:
One soars on high,
One distills the earth’s essence,
And the third hovers everywhere.
Hildegard von Bingen, O virtus sapientia

In September of 1999, Pope John Paul II told a crowd of pilgrims at St. Peter's Square that God has both a male and female nature and can be referred to as "God the Mother".  A similar declaration had been made by his predecessor, Pope John Paul I, shortly before his death, who said, "God is both mother and father and is more mother than father."  There is a long stream of Catholic tradition which acknowledges the motherly nature of God and the association of Lady Wisdom with the Holy Spirit, understood in feminine terms both by some early Fathers of the Church and in Judaism, before the birth of Christianity.  Yet it seems that this tradition has been intentionally suppressed, and language about God remains terribly lopsided toward the patriarchal.  Let us walk with the sainted abbess Hildegard awhile and see what else our Holy Doctor might reveal... 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Our Lady of Guadalupe

The story of Our Lady of Guadalupe was the first Marian apparition I ever learned about in detail.  Such a lush, inspiring story, I could not believe I had not heard it before.  I am from a family of stories, on both sides.  My grandfather, especially, has told me his stories, repeated so many times as memory is rekindled by a present conversation, so often that the stories grow to the proportion of tall tales, mythic accounts where he and his family members are always victorious.  No one ever bests them, or wins the argument or the fight.  He and his kin always have the last word.  It is proven that human beings learn best from stories, which become a part of the hearer, interpreted within the context of his or her own life and experiences.  If you really want to make a point with a child, tell her a story.  If you really want to learn as an adult, become like a child.  My grandpa's stories reflect his faith, that we are never beaten in the game of life, that through challenge and hardship we will prevail, and at the end receive our reward.

So it was for me when I heard of the Mexican Indian Juan Diego, a poor peasant who was given his Christianized name by Spanish missionaries, in a place of the conquered and abused.  The Mother of God came to him in 1531at the top of a hill called Tepayac, at the shrine of Tonantzin, a goddess of earth and crops who stood in stark contrast to the Aztec gods of the region who required human sacrifice.  The Indians were saved by Catholicism from this barbarous tradition, but their women were raped by the Spanish, and thousands of the people were murdered.  They were an enslaved race.  The Virgin of Guadalupe brought peace, hope, conversion, and motherly love.  She told Juan Diego, "I am the Ever-Virgin Holy Mary, Mother of the Great God of Truth."  She washed the violated clean through the power of her divine Son.  "I am your merciful mother and the mother of all the nations that live on this earth who would love me, who would speak with me, who would search for me, and who would place their confidence in me."

With Mary came an ethereal song of birds and roses in December, and a miracle--her image painted on the cloak of Juan Diego, a sign to the bishop that the peasant's words were true, that he had indeed been visited by the Blessed Mother.  The church she requested to be built on the hill was constructed immediately, and tens of thousands of pilgrims visit what is now a major basilica every year.  In almost 500 years the image has not faded, and the cloak, made of maguey cactus fibers that should have disintegrated within 20 years, is still pristine.  The materials used to create the image cannot be identified, and the picture has survived an accidental spill of acid and a terrorist bomb, not to mention the touch and kisses of many, many believers. Today, December 12, is her Feast Day.  I will make corn bread and quesadillas in honor of her association with the native peoples of Mexico and the abundance of life-giving earth.

The Virgin of Guadalupe bears a striking resemblance to the woman of Revelation 12, standing on the crescent moon, clothed in the rays of the sun, her veil covered with stars in the pattern of the night sky on the day of her visitation.  She is wearing a sash that symbolizes pregnancy.  She is praying and appears to be dancing.  This figure of Mary is cosmological, her clothing depicting Native Mexican royalty, her grace forever abundant and available to the downtrodden and broken-hearted.  In her they are lifted up, promised a new beginning and perpetual renewal.  Our Lady of the Dispossessed.

We have a spiritual Mother in heaven who visits us here on earth.  She loves us, she nurtures us, she brings us the peace of God.  We have only to seek her, and she will come.  I know, for she came to me.  "Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" I asked myself, echoing the words of Mary's cousin Elizabeth.  Who, indeed?  I will tell you.  I am a child of God and a child of Mary, just like Jesus, because he is my Savior who made me his sister.  Mary leads us to Jesus, and she offers her motherly intercession free to anyone with an open heart.  She holds us under her starry mantle and shows us the view from the top of the moon.  She allows us to try on her crown that we might look forward to wearing a royal diadem ourselves one day.  From her flows the maternal presence--the Shekinah--of our Creator, and she invites us to dance with her the cosmic dance of holy union, light, and love.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

God as Unity

God is beyond human comprehension in a certain sense, but we can have a personal relationship with the Almighty. God is neither male nor female. God's revealed name is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We can know something about God's nature through the Bible and Church Tradition, and through the guidance of the Holy Spirit in personal revelation. Yet we are still limited by human language and symbolism to grasp and articulate the ineffable mystery of the triune Godhead. If we are humble, we acknowledge what little we actually know.

As both women and men are made in the image of God, we can use language for God in both masculine and feminine terms. The truest way I have found to comprehend the nature of God is as the spiritual unity of the masculine and feminine dimensions of being. Again, God is not divided into male and female principles; God is pure spirit. When I refer to masculine and feminine principles, it is by way of analogy to our human condition and our ideas regarding the qualities typically associated with a particular gender. The creation story of Genesis and the marriage of man and woman teach that men and women together are a symbol of the sacred unity that exists in God. A man and woman being flesh of the same flesh and bone of the same bone, coming together in love and open to procreation, gives us a glimpse into the divine nature. God is the perfection of family relationship.  At the same time, both men and women are unique, equally valid images of the divine.

So when I point out that names like Ruah, the Hebrew for Spirit, and Hokmah and Sophia (Hebrew and Greek for Wisdom, respectively) are feminine in gender, that is not to say that God is a woman any more than God is a man. It is to emphasize that Elohim, the Hebrew name for God, is grammatically expressive of a divinity that perfectly contains the union of what we understand as male and female, and that this gives us a clue to follow.

To incorporate the language of Mother in reference to God, or to refer to the Holy Spirit as "she" in some cases, such as in the manifestation of the Spirit as Lady Wisdom, in no way infringes upon divine revelation. To call God both "he" and "she" simply equalizes theological language that has excluded the truth of the unity of God, that has historically been excessively patriarchal, resulting in untold damage to the psyche and spiritual life of all humankind. Not to mention the devastation of planet Earth, so often characterized in feminine terms and treated in ways that parallel violence toward women. Nevertheless, it would not be appropriate to change the revealed name of the Trinity--the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Also, for the matter of consistency, the use of male pronouns for all members of the Trinity in the liturgy is perhaps more efficacious. This would not exclude, however, sermons and homilies that focus upon the motherhood of God or references to God's "feminine face", as I have occasionally heard spoken by priests at Mass. Then again, referring to the Holy Spirit as she in some contexts in order to reflect the often bridal-maternal nature of this divine Person within the Trinity would most fully characterize God as divine family unity, that which our human family unity mirrors.

 Woman Clothed with the Sun by Duncan Long

Names like Spirit-Sophia, used by Catholic theologian Elizabeth A. Johnson, point to the personification of the Holy Spirit as "Lady" in the Wisdom Books of the Bible. Holy Wisdom as "she" is not merely a grammatical coincidence; it is a full-fledged theology of the Spirit of God in bridal-maternal terms. The Holy Spirit could rightly be called the mystical "feminine nature" of the Trinity. Like all members of the Godhead, the Spirit is fully an expression of divine unity. However, the "Mother Love" of God is most clearly revealed through the Third Person. And Mary, being the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit and Mother of the Church, reveals so personally the sacred feminine in divinity. Jesus said that those who have seen him have seen the Father. Likewise, a personal relationship with Mary helps us to "see" the Holy Spirit/Sophia. This is why, especially in a heavily patriarchal culture, Marian devotion must be emphasized and encouraged, not marginalized. More homilies, hymns and prayers to Mary in the liturgy, and fuller celebrations of her feast days (that is, a return to more traditional expressions of devotion), would provide a greater balance to our community worship.

How we name things does matter. A rose by any other name may very well smell as sweet, but the name of rose brings to mind vividly what the rose is and what it symbolizes. Exclusively male terms for God do not bring to our minds and hearts the truth of God's unity or the fullness of God's love. Woman must understand that she is as complete an expression of the image of God as is man, and man must also comprehend this revelation.