The Shekinah: Image of the Divine Feminine
The Divine Feminine
Exploring the Feminine Face of God throughout the World
Godsfield Press UK and Conari Press USA 1996
Anne Baring and Andrew Harvey
The Shekinah: Image of the Divine Feminine
The Shekinah is the image of the Divine Feminine or the feminine face of God as it was conceived in the mystical tradition of Judaism, originating perhaps in the rabbinic schools of Babylon and transmitted orally for a thousand years until it flowered in the writings of the Jewish Kabbalists of medieval Spain and southwestern France. In Kabbalah, religion ceases to be a matter of worship and collective belief. It becomes a direct path of communion between the individual and the Divine. In the imagery of the Shekinah, Kabbalah gives us the cosmology of the soul and the relationship between the two aspects of the godhead that has been lost or hidden for millennia. The mythology of the Kabbalah is so gloriously rich, so broad in its imaginative and revelatory reach, and so intensely nourishing to a world that lacks any awareness of the Divine Feminine, that to discover this tradition is immensely exciting. The Shekinah reveals the missing imagery of God-as-Mother that has been lost or obscured in both Judaism and Christianity.
Whereas the Old Testament is the written tradition of Judaism, Kabbalah offers the hidden oral tradition, wonderfully named as "The Voice of the Turtle" (turtledove). This mystic knowledge or mystic tradition of the direct path to God was described as the Jewels of the Heavenly Bride. The Bronze Age imagery of the Great Goddess returns to life in the extraordinary beauty of the Kabbalistic description of the Shekinah and in the gender endings of nouns that describe the feminine dimension of the godhead. But the Divine Feminine is now understood as cosmic soul, the intermediary between the godhead and life in this dimension who, as the Shekinah brings together heaven and earth, the divine and the human in a resplendent vision of their essential relationship.
The mythology of this tradition restores the image of the sacred marriage in the union of the Divine Father-Mother in the ground of being. There is not a Mother and a Father but a Mother-Father who are one in their eternal embrace: one in their ground, one in their emanation, one in their ecstatic and continuous act of creation through all the invisible dimensions they bring into being and sustain. No other tradition offers the same breathtaking vision, in such exquisite poetic imagery, of the union of male and female energies in the One that is both. The Song of Songs was the text most used by Kabbalists for their contemplation of the mystery of this divine union. Yet one has the feeling that this way to union with the Divine may descend from some unknown source that nourished Egypt, Sumer, and India.
The Kabbalistic tradition describes the feminine image of the godhead as Mother, Daughter, Sister, and Holy Spirit, giving woman what she has lacked throughout the last two and a half thousand years in Judeo-Christian culture - an image of the Divine Feminine in the godhead that is reflected at the human level in herself. The Shekinah is Divine Motherhood, Mother of All Living. Women can know themselves, in their role as mothers, in their care and concern for the well-being of their loved ones, as the instinctive custodians of her creation.
The thirteenth-century "Zohar, The Book of Radiance or Splendor" that was the principal text of Kabbalah, contemplates the mystery of the relationship between the female and male aspects of the godhead expressed as Mother and Father, and their emanation through all levels of creation as Daughter and Son. The essential conception of this mystical tradition expresses itself as an image of worlds within worlds. Divine Spirit (Ain Soph or Ein Sof) beyond form or conception is the light at the center, the heart, and moves outward as creative sound (word), thought and energy, bringing into being successive spheres, realms, veils, or dimensions imagined as veils or robes that clothe and hide the hidden source yet at the same time transmit its radiant light.
The transmission of light from source to the outer, manifest level is also imagined as an inverted tree, the Tree of Life, whose branches grow from its root in the divine ground and extend through the worlds of emanation. The primal center or root is the innermost light, of an unimaginable luminosity and translucence. The inner point expands or is sown as a ray of light into a dimension described in some texts as a sea of glory, in others as a palace that acts as an enclosure for the light; from this womb it emanates as a radiant cascade, a fountain of living water, pouring forth light to sustain and permeate all the worlds or dimensions it brings into being. All life on earth, all consciousness, is that light and is therefore utterly sacred. The Zohar [principal text of Kabbalah] describes nature as the garment of God.
Andrew Harvey & Anne Baring, The Divine Feminine
Conari Press Berkeley, CA
ISBN 1-57324-035-4 (hardcover)
Pgs. 86, 88-89
NOTE: If this page was accessed during a web search you may wish to browse the sites listed below where this topic or related issues are discussed in detail to promote global peace, religious harmony, and spiritual development of humanity:www.adishakti.org/
www.adi-shakti.org/ ' Divine Feminine (Hinduism)
www.holyspirit-shekinah.org/ ' Divine Feminine (Christianity)
www.ruach-elohim.org/ ' Divine Feminine (Judaism)
www.ruh-allah.org/ ' Divine Feminine (Islam)
www.tao-mother.org/ ' Divine Feminine (Taoism)
www.prajnaaparamita.org/ ' Divine Feminine (Buddhism)
www.aykaa-mayee.org/ ' Divine Feminine (Sikhism)
www.great-spirit-mother.org/ ' Divine Feminine (Native Traditions)