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Center for Action and Contemplation
Divine Feminine
Divine Feminine

God the Mother

Monday, March 14, 2022

Rabbi Rami Shapiro is a Jewish contemplative and interfaith teacher, well-versed in the Hebrew Scriptures. He describes how the Divine Feminine has been present all along as Wisdom, God’s essential partner in the creation of the cosmos:

It is no small thing to note that Wisdom is feminine. The original language of the texts, both Hebrew and Greek, make this very clear: Hebrew Chochma and Greek Sophia are both feminine nouns. The authors of the Wisdom books [such as Proverbs, Wisdom, Ecclesiastes, and more] took this gender specificity seriously and envisioned Wisdom as Mother, God’s consort and bride, the Divine Feminine through which the masculine God fashioned all creation. . . .

Chochma was not simply the first of God’s creations; She was the means through which all the others came forth. This is what it means to be the master builder. Chochma is both created and creative. She is the ordering principle of creation: “She embraces one end of the earth to the other, and She orders all things well” (Wisdom of Solomon 8:1). To know Her is to know the Way of all things . . . and to act in accord with it is what it means to be wise. . . .

This is how Mother Wisdom works. She doesn’t change anything; She illumines everything. She is right seeing. Chochma “pervades and penetrates” all things (Wisdom of Solomon 7:24). She is the ordering principle of the universe. What you see when you see Her is analogous to seeing the grain in wood, the current of wind and oceans, and the laws of nature, both the macrocosmic and the microcosmic. . . . She is the Way things are. . . .

She is the Way God is manifest in the world. To know Her is to know God as well. [1]

Biblical scholar Virginia Mollenkott explores the frequent imagery of God as Mother in the Bible, including in surprising places in the New Testament:

More pervasive than any other biblical image of God as female is the image of a maternal deity. Not only is the Creator depicted as carrying in the womb or birthing the creation, but also Christ and the Holy Spirit are depicted in similar roles. . . .

[A] serene, transcendent image of God the Mother occurs in Acts 17:26 and 28, during Paul’s speech to the Athenian Council of the Areopagus. Paul declares that God is not dependent on anything, since God is the one who has given life and breath to everyone. Furthermore, this God is not far from any of us, for it is in God that we live, and move, and exist. Although the apostle does not specifically name the womb, at no other time in human experience do we exist within another person. Thus, Paul pictures the entire human race—people of all colors, all religions, all political and economic systems—as living, moving, and existing within the cosmic womb of the One God. [2]

[1] Rami Shapiro, The Divine Feminine in Biblical Wisdom Literature: Selections Annotated and Explained (Woodstock, VT: SkyLight Paths Publishing, 2005), xviii, xxi, xxii, xxiii.

[2] Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, The Divine Feminine: The Biblical Imagery of God as Female (New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1984), 15–16.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Toni Frisell, Nuns Clamming on Long Island (detail), 1957, photograph, New York, public domain. Jenna Keiper, Untitled Rose, (detail), 2020, photograph, used with permission. Annie Spratt, Women farming cassava in Sierra Leone (detail), 2017, photograph, Sierra Leone, Unsplash, free use. Jenna Keiper and Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States.

This week’s images appear in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story. 

Image inspiration: Divine expression comes in many forms. The Divine Feminine meets, nurtures, and is in us all, regardless of gender. Like a rose in a forgotten window, She Is and continues to be, despite attempts to neutralize her fragrance.

Story from Our Community:

I have found the divine feminine in my healing from abuse by both parents. She holds me when I am shattered, calls to me to see her in all created things, and enfolds me when I get lost. She also calls me to grow and become the person she sees me to be. We travel together daily and I feel so blessed to have found her.
—Nancy B.

Share your own story with us.

Prayer for our community:

God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough,  because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Listen to the prayer.


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