Theme:
Feminine Incarnation

Feminine Incarnation

Summary: Sunday, June 9—Friday, June 14, 2019

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. (Sunday)

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. Humans produce in art and story the inner images the soul needs. (Monday)

Today we are witnessing an immense longing for relational, mutually empowering feminine qualities at every level of our society . . . which have become far too warlike, competitive, individualistic, mechanistic, and non-contemplative. (Tuesday)

In blessed Mother’s view, all are lovable; all souls are accepted, all carry a sweetness of heart, are beautiful to the eyes; worthy of consciousness, of being inspired, being helped, being comforted and protected—even if other mere humans believe foolishly or blindly to the contrary. —Clarissa Pinkola Estés (Wednesday)

My God is an incarnate feminine power, who smells like vanilla and is full of sass and truth, delivered with kindness. She’ll do anything for her creation; her love is fierce. She weeps when we do and insists on justice. She is God. She is Love. —Jacqui Lewis (Thursday)

The feminine . . . is shifting the global paradigm from one of dominance and individualized salvation to one of collective awakening and service to all beings. —Mirabai Starr (Friday)

 

Practice: The Ordinary

Mirabai Starr was born in New York to secular Jewish parents and spent her teenage years at an inter-faith community in New Mexico. During the counter-cultural 1970s, an accidental dose of LSD triggered terrifying altered states of consciousness, and Mirabai’s spiritual teacher brainwashed and sexually abused her. She writes about the importance of staying grounded in reality and finding healing for our bodies:

For women mystics, contemplative life is not so much a matter of transcending the illusions of mundane existence or attaining states of perfect equanimity as it is about becoming as fully present as possible to the realities of the human experience. In showing up for what is, no matter how pedestrian or tedious, how aggravating or shameful, the what is begins to reveal itself as imbued with holiness. How do we make space in our lives for this kind of sacred seeing?

It doesn’t hurt to engage in some kind of disciplined practice, such as meditation or prayer. Silent sitting becomes a magic carpet that rescues us from identifying with every neurotic thought that pops into our minds and every emotional distraction that threatens to abduct us. When we purposely build periods of reverence or stillness into our days, we practice gazing through the eyes of love, and we get better and better at seeing love everywhere we look. Your practice may take the shape of twenty minutes a day on a cushion or aimless solitary walks on the beach. It can look like kneeling in a church or a mosque or simply like following the flow of one breath to the next with your full attention.

It took me a couple of decades of meditation practice to make my way home to the feminine contemplative path. I began my quest at fourteen. My initial training was framed by a masculine approach: it was all about crushing the ego and distrusting the body. My goal was to detach from the material plane and travel in the astral realms. . . . I was the perfect candidate for spiritual trickery. . . .

Healing from my exploitation involved not only escaping the charlatan master but salvaging the sanctity of my body and inching my way toward a more female-positive approach to things. This reclamation project spilled into my spiritual life and permeated the interior landscape. I began to leave the altered states behind, trade the razzle-dazzle of paranormal phenomena for the blessing of the ordinary. I flirted with the possibility of fully inhabiting the present moment, willing to investigate things as they are and myself as I am. I started looking with curiosity and kindness. As I developed this method of mindfulness, the impulse to be present expanded beyond the cushion and into the open field of my life.

Reference:
Mirabai Starr, Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics (Sounds True: 2019), 11, 13-14.

For Further Study:
Jacqueline Orsini Dunnington, with photographs by Charles Mann, Celebrating Guadalupe (Rio Nuevo Publishers: 2004)

Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Untie the Strong Woman: Blessed Mother’s Immaculate Love for the Wild Soul (Sounds True: 2011)

Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe (Convergent: 2019)

Mirabai Starr, Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics (Sounds True: 2019)

the Mendicant, vol. 9, no. 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2019)

Image credit: Our Lady of Guadalupe (detail of the original image as it appeared on the tilma or cloak of Juan Diego when he experienced a vision of Our Lady on top of Tepeyac Hill, outside of Mexico City). The tilma is enshrined within the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: The apparition known as Our Lady of Guadalupe . . . appeared on the exact spot where the Nahuatl people [of Mexico] 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. . . . 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. —Mirabai Starr
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Feminine Incarnation

Wise Women
Friday, June 14, 2019

Today’s reflection is by Mirabai Starr, drawn from her article in the Center’s spring newsletter and her new book Wild Mercy:

As you have undoubtedly noticed, the feminine is rising at last, overflowing the banks of every landscape, from politics to religion, from the world of entertainment to the fields of peace and justice. She is unconditionally loving, and she is deliciously irreverent. She is shifting the global paradigm from one of dominance and individualized salvation to one of collective awakening and service to all beings.

Her wisdom has been hidden in the heart of each of the great spiritual traditions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and all Indigenous wisdom ways. Access to these jewels has required excavation, but the treasures that have emerged are transfiguring the soul of the world, offering medicine for the broken heart of humanity and the materials needed to mend the torn fabric of the earth.

Ever since I was a young girl, I have been irresistibly drawn to every religion I encountered. Born into a non-religious Jewish family, I had embraced multiple spiritual traditions by the time I was twenty and integrated them into my daily life: a deep devotion to an Indian saint, a daily Buddhist meditation practice, initiation into multiple Sufi lineages, a reclamation of the ancient beauty of my ancestral home in Judaism, and an unexpected friendship with Christ through the mystics, whose words I have since translated. Each of these paths has comingled in my being, creating a rich and robust spiritual soil.

It is the Christian women mystics who have become my most cherished spiritual sisters and role models. The sixteenth-century Spanish mystic, Teresa of Ávila [1515–1582] has shown me what it looks like to cultivate ecstatic intimacy with God in the center of my own being and also find my Beloved “living among the pots and pans.” The medieval Rhineland visionary Hildegard of Bingen [1098–1179] praises God’s greening energy in every particle of creation, helping me to glimpse the face of the One in all that is. The English anchoress Julian of Norwich [1342–1316] had a near death experience in which Christ revealed himself as an unconditionally loving Mother who continuously breaks herself open and pours herself out to her children, endlessly forgiving and enthusiastically adoring us.

Through each of these wise women, I have come to recognize the holiness of incarnation. There is nothing in this gorgeous, messy world, not a thing in my own imperfect perfection, no place in the scope of the human predicament or the majesty of the natural world that is not, by its very nature, blessed: the chosen dwelling place of the One we love. [1]

Our experiences of embodiment may not always correspond with idealized images of holiness, but these preconceptions derive from masculine standards of perfection. Such paradigms have caused great harm, and they are no longer valid. I invite you to abandon your efforts to fix yourself and instead reclaim your innate beauty and worth as a luminous cell in the body of Mother Earth. [2]

References:
[1] Mirabai Starr, “Indwelling and Outflowing,” the Mendicant, vol. 9, no. 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2019), 3.

[2] Mirabai Starr, Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics (Sounds True: 2019), 154.

Image credit: Our Lady of Guadalupe (detail of the original image as it appeared on the tilma or cloak of Juan Diego when he experienced a vision of Our Lady on top of Tepeyac Hill, outside of Mexico City). The tilma is enshrined within the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: The apparition known as Our Lady of Guadalupe . . . appeared on the exact spot where the Nahuatl people [of Mexico] 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. . . . 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. —Mirabai Starr
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Feminine Incarnation

She Is Love
Thursday, June 13, 2019

Why not? Why not pretend for now that the Absolute (the Great Mystery, the Ground of Being) sometimes expresses itself in the body of woman? Pretending God’s a dude hasn’t exactly worked out for the vast majority of the human family, let alone the animal and plant communities or the air or the waters. —Mirabai Starr [1]

Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, an African American pastor and author that I greatly respect, spoke at CAC’s recent conference on the theme of racial and gender inequity. Not surprisingly, some white folks in our audience were very uncomfortable. And that’s okay! Discomfort is a teacher; it’s an invitation to learn and grow. As unpleasant as it may be, we must face the truth of Christianity’s complicity in creating and supporting systems of oppression. It’s more than time for all of us to reimagine God.

Keep your heart open as you read Jacqui Lewis’ vision of God:

It makes sense that because white men created so much of religion, the image of God was an old white man with grey hair. However, this image needs a makeover because he’s no longer working.

My God is a curvy black woman with dreadlocks and dark, cocoa-brown skin. She laughs from her belly and is unashamed to cry. She can rock a whole world to sleep, singing in her contralto voice. Her sighs breathe life into humanity. Her heartbreaks cause eruptions of justice and love.

Of course, because God is a mystery, we don’t know everything about Her. So out of our imaginations and our yearnings, our hopes and our fears, we make stuff up. At our best, we project goodness, power, kindness, and love onto God. At our worst, we create a God who is punitive, angry, judgmental, and harsh. We do this because we are those things, and we think they make us safe.

Projection itself is not the problem. The problem occurs when we don’t examine those projections with a critical eye, with a hermeneutic of suspicion. The issue is that we write laws that codify the shadow parts of the god we create, in order to diminish others, to abuse others. The trouble starts when our god is too small, when we reduce our worst projections to fit in our pocket and keep this god on our team. When we neglect to confront this created god, we get the Crusades and the Doctrine of Discovery; the murder of indigenous people and Jews; apartheid and enslaved Africans; sexism, xenophobia, and homophobia—all in the name of the too-puny god that is the worst of ourselves.

I know I’ve got my projections. They are inspired by my imagination and by textual studies. In Hebrew, the words for womb and mercy have the same root, and the word for spirit is feminine: ruach. In Greek, the word pneuma [breath or spirit or soul] has a feminine article, the word Sophia stands for wisdom, and the word agape—God’s love for us—is also a feminine word. Therefore, my God is an incarnate feminine power, who smells like vanilla and is full of sass and truth, delivered with kindness. She’ll do anything for her creation; her love is fierce. She weeps when we do and insists on justice. She is God. She is Love.

References:
[1] Mirabai Starr, Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics (Sounds True: 2019), 32.

Jacqui Lewis, “She Is God. She Is Love.” the Mendicant, vol. 9, no. 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2019), 23.

Image credit: Our Lady of Guadalupe (detail of the original image as it appeared on the tilma or cloak of Juan Diego when he experienced a vision of Our Lady on top of Tepeyac Hill, outside of Mexico City). The tilma is enshrined within the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: The apparition known as Our Lady of Guadalupe . . . appeared on the exact spot where the Nahuatl people [of Mexico] 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. . . . 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. —Mirabai Starr
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Feminine Incarnation

Our Blessed Mother
Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Clarissa Pinkola Estés has spent many years gathering and sharing stories of the Divine Feminine across cultures and religions. In her book Untie the Strong Woman she helps us connect with the Holy Mother’s comfort, guidance, and vision. Read Estés’ words through your heart center more than your rational mind:

In a world that is often heart-stopping in horror and breath-taking in beauty, but too often scraped down to the bone by those who leak scorn with such soul-sick pride, it is the Blessed Mother, who is so unspeakably gracious with brilliant inspirations that pour into us—if we listen, if we watch for them.

Thus, there is such blessed reason to seek out and remain near this great teaching force known worldwide as Our Lady, La Nuestra Señora, and most especially called with loyalty and love, Our Mother, Our Holy Mother. Our very own.

She is known by many names and many images, and has appeared in different epochs of time, to people across the world, in exactly the shapes and images the soul would most readily understand her, apprehend her, be able to embrace her and be embraced by her.

She wears a thousand names, thousands of skin tones, thousands of costumes to represent her being patroness of deserts, mountains, stars, streams, and oceans. If there are more than six billion people on earth, then thereby she comes to us in literally billions of images. Yet at her center is only one great Immaculate Heart. . . .

In blessed Mother’s view, all are lovable; all souls are accepted, all carry a sweetness of heart, are beautiful to the eyes; worthy of consciousness, of being inspired, being helped, being comforted and protected—even if other mere humans believe foolishly or blindly to the contrary.

If, following the pathways laid down in the stories of the “old believers,” if after the old God . . . who seemed to spend inordinate time creating and destroying, thence came to us in huge contrast, the God of Love—then Our Blessed Mother is the ultimate Mother Who Gave Birth to Love.

She is the Mother who ascended whole, the Mother who has lived through wars, conquests, conscriptions. The Mother who has been outlawed, done outrage to, squelched, carpet bombed, hidden, stabbed, stripped, burnt, plasticized, and dismissed.

Yet she survived—in us and for us—no matter who raised a hand against her or attempted to undermine her endless reach. She is writ into every sacred book, every document of the mysteries, every parchment that details her as Wind, Fire, Warrior, Heart of Gold, La que sabe, the One Who Knows, and more.

And most of all, she is writ into our very souls. Our longings for her, our desires to know her, to be changed by her, to follow her ways of acute insight, her sheltering ways, her trust in goodness—these are the evidences that she exists, that she continues to live as a huge, not always invisible but palpably felt, force in our world right now.

Reference:
Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Untie the Strong Woman: Blessed Mother’s Immaculate Love for the Wild Soul (Sounds True: 2011), 1-3.

Image credit: Our Lady of Guadalupe (detail of the original image as it appeared on the tilma or cloak of Juan Diego when he experienced a vision of Our Lady on top of Tepeyac Hill, outside of Mexico City). The tilma is enshrined within the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: The apparition known as Our Lady of Guadalupe . . . appeared on the exact spot where the Nahuatl people [of Mexico] 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. . . . 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. —Mirabai Starr
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Feminine Incarnation

The Deep Feminine
Tuesday, June 11, 2019

I think Christians of the first thousand years understood Mary as the feminine incarnation on an intuitive and allegorical level. But by the time of the much-needed Protestant Reformation, all we could see was “She is not God.” This is entirely true, but we lost the ability to see in wholes and understand that, even better, “She is us!” That is why we loved her, probably without fully understanding why.

Much of the human race can more easily imagine unconditional love coming from the feminine and the maternal than from a man. In the many images of Mary, humans see our own feminine soul. We needed to see ourselves in her, and say with her, “God has looked upon me in my lowliness. From now on, all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:48).

If Christ and Jesus are the archetypes of what God is doing, Mary is the archetype of how to receive what God is doing and hand it on to others. In art, she is invariably offering Jesus to the observer or inviting us to come to him. We Catholics used to say “To Jesus through Mary” in the 1950s. It was poor theology but very effective psychology and pedagogy for many.

In Mary, humanity has said our eternal yes to God. A yes that cannot be undone. A corporate yes that overrides our many noes. This is why Mary was commonly called the “New Eve” who undid the corporate no of the first Eve and is often pictured in art stepping on the snake that tempted Eve (Genesis 3:15).

Today we are witnessing an immense longing for relational, mutually empowering feminine qualities 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, individualistic, mechanistic, and non-contemplative. We are terribly imbalanced.

Unfortunately, the feminine has often had to work in secret, behind the scenes, indirectly. It’s to the church and culture’s own detriment that women haven’t been recognized as leaders. Yet they have still had a profound effect. We see Mary’s subtlety of grace, patience, and humility when she quietly says at the wedding feast of Cana, “They have no wine” (John 2:3b), and then seems totally assured that Jesus will take it from there (John 2:5). And he does!

Like the Christ Mystery itself, the deep feminine often works underground and in the shadows, 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. Many of us in the U.S. Catholic Church feel that the culture of faith was passed onto us much more from the sisters than from the priests. Feminine power is deeply relational and symbolic—and thus transformative—in ways that many men cannot control or even understand. I suspect that is why we fear it so much.

Reference:
Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe (Convergent: 2019), 124, 127-128.

Image credit: Our Lady of Guadalupe (detail of the original image as it appeared on the tilma or cloak of Juan Diego when he experienced a vision of Our Lady on top of Tepeyac Hill, outside of Mexico City). The tilma is enshrined within the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: The apparition known as Our Lady of Guadalupe . . . appeared on the exact spot where the Nahuatl people [of Mexico] 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. . . . 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. —Mirabai Starr
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Feminine Incarnation

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.

References:
[1] Mirabai Starr, Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics (Sounds True: 2019), 149-150.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe (Convergent: 2019), 123-124.

Image credit: Our Lady of Guadalupe (detail of the original image as it appeared on the tilma or cloak of Juan Diego when he experienced a vision of Our Lady on top of Tepeyac Hill, outside of Mexico City). The tilma is enshrined within the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: The apparition known as Our Lady of Guadalupe . . . appeared on the exact spot where the Nahuatl people [of Mexico] 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. . . . 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. —Mirabai Starr
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Feminine Incarnation

Archetypal Feminine
Sunday, June 9, 2019
Pentecost

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.

References:
[1] Cisgender is a term for people whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth. Trans or transgender people have a gender identity or expression that is different from the sex assigned at birth. Non-binary, also known as gender queer, refers to gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe (Convergent: 2019), 121-123, 127.

Image credit: Our Lady of Guadalupe (detail of the original image as it appeared on the tilma or cloak of Juan Diego when he experienced a vision of Our Lady on top of Tepeyac Hill, outside of Mexico City). The tilma is enshrined within the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: The apparition known as Our Lady of Guadalupe . . . appeared on the exact spot where the Nahuatl people [of Mexico] 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. . . . 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. —Mirabai Starr
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