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Divine Feminine
Divine Feminine

The Earth Is at the Same Time Mother

Friday, March 18, 2022

Father Richard recognizes the divine feminine has been at work at all times and in all places, even when she has not been affirmed or even recognized:

Today on many levels, we are witnessing an immense longing for the mature feminine at every level of our society—from our politics to our economics, in our psyche, our cultures, our patterns of leadership, and our theologies, all of which have become far too warlike, competitive, mechanistic and non-contemplative. We are terribly imbalanced.

Like the Christ Mystery itself, the deep feminine often works underground and in mysterious ways, and—from that position—creates a much more intoxicating message. While church and culture have often denied women roles, offices, and formal authority, the Divine Feminine has continued to exercise incredible power at the cosmic and personal levels. Feminine power is deeply relational and thus transformative, bringing new life from both the womb and the symbolic tombs where we have locked away our hurt and pain. [1]

Hear this magnificently courageous poem from the Book of Proverbs 8:30–31:

“I was by God’s side, a master craftswoman, delighting God day after day, ever at play in God’s presence, at play everywhere in God’s world, delighting to be with the children of humans.” [Father Richard: Read Proverbs 8:22–31 to be both enthralled and shocked by this notion of Sophia as the feminine side of creation from the very beginning. Who had the courage to talk this way in a monotheistic religion?]

The mystic and Doctor of the Church Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179) proclaimed the feminine aspects of God, challenging both church and culture. Author and spiritual teacher Mirabai Starr considers Hildegard’s relevance for our time:

Although Hildegard was recognized as a saint among her own people . . . over the ages, her teachings faded into obscurity. It has only been since the twentieth century, in light of a renewed interest in feminine spirituality, that Hildegard’s transmission has been revivified. Her recognition of nature as sacred and her outstanding musical gifts directly address our contemporary hunger for a spirituality that is both socially relevant and passionately alive. [2]

Starr explores Hildegard’s visions:

Hildegard was smitten with the creator and enamored by every element of creation. Her mysticism is intimate—erotic, even. She coined the term viriditas to evoke the lush, extravagant, moist, and verdant quality of the Divine, manifesting as the “greening power” that permeates all that is. This life-giving energy is imbued with a distinctly feminine quality.

The earth is at the same time
she is the mother of all that is natural,
mother of all that is human.
She is the mother of all,
for contained in her
are the seeds of all. [3]

For Hildegard, the Son may be the incarnation of the Holy One [in human form], but the Mother forms the very stuff from which the Word of God issues forth into the world. [4]

[1] Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope for, and Believe (New York: Convergent, 2019), 128.

[2] Mirabai Starr, Hildegard of Bingen: Devotions, Prayers, and Living Wisdom (Boulder, CO: Sounds True, 2008), 17.

[3] Gabriele Uhlein, Meditations with Hildegard of Bingen (Santa Fe, NM: Bear & Company, 1983), 58. Uhlein’s version is an interpretation of Hildegard, The Book of the Rewards of Life (Liber Vitae Meritorum), 4.20.

[4] Mirabai Starr, Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics (Boulder, CO: Sounds True, 2019), 152.

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:

divine feminine offering understanding / a spirit of serenity, knowing, Peace, contentment / securely holding preciousness / hands offering strength and foundational belonging / child rests over open heart / finding rest in what is / unity of hearts completing the circle / of life, growth, struggle, letting go, new life
—Patricia S., “My Little Meditation-Mother and Child” (inspired by a painting by Mary Cassatt)

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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