Heavenly Mother’s Day: Dreaming of the Divine Feminine

Putneypics from Flickr

Putneypics from Flickr

Guest Post by Maxine Hanks

My encounter with the divine feminine began in dreams, when I was a teen; yet, a sense of Her was there before, in the love of my mother and the lyrics of my favorite Primary song:  “our lilac tree” and “butterfly wings” and “the magical sound of things,” resonated Her presence.My first dream of Her came in 1972; a female figure led me to our Chapel, where a crystal bowl of pristine water waited on the sacrament table, for me to partake. Before I could drink, two sisters in the ward began adding ingredients to the water to make a cake. I awoke dismayed. She appeared in another dream or two, but I didn’t know Her name.

In 1976, I unconsciously engaged Her at college, by writing about female concerns on campus, and co-chairing the women’s conference, themed “Woman Clothed With The Sun.” I was doing female theology without knowing it.

I first spoke of Her in 1982 at the Seventh East Press. I wanted to publish the poem, “The Motherless House,” but I had to wait 10 years. She was barely surfacing then, in work by Carol Lynn Pearson (1970s), Linda Wilcox (1980), the Exponent II (1980s), and private discussions by Martha Pierce and Julie Nichols.

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Sacred Music: Eliza R Snow and A Mother There

Eliza and MotherThis image is one that will be in the upcoming EXPONENT II COLORING BOOK (look for it later this year).

It is Eliza Roxcy Snow writing her famous hymn: “O My Father”.  Eliza had many roles and callings in the early church including 2nd President of the Relief Society, sister to the Prophet Lorenzo Snow, plural wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith and she was called the Prophetess of the Church by some.  She was also known throughout the region as a poet.

“In Nauvoo, she gained distinction as a Mormon poet [through her] featured [work] in local newspapers … and was called “Zion’s Poetess”.  She wrote 10 of the hymns in our current hymn book including some of my favorites:

  • How Great the Wisdom and the Love
  • In Our Lovely Deseret (sung with great fervor by the Elders on my mission)
  • The Time is Far Spent (another beloved song from mission days)
  • Truth Reflects Upon Our Senses

And, of course, the hymn she is perhaps most known for: O My Father.  This is a beautiful hymn written in 1845, a year after Joseph’s death, directed to our heavenly parents.  This direction is precicely what makes it so well known – it names both our Father and our Mother in Heaven.

Today on Mother’s Day, I pay tribute to both of these women who represent different kinds of mothers.

1. Heavenly Mother created our spirits and gave us life in a heavenly sense. In an earthly reflection of this creation, our mother’s here give life to our physical bodies. I honor the mother of my spirit and the mother of my body.  My earthly mother is good and kind and caring.  She gave me my body and has stayed near me on life’s journey to guide me and love me. This gift has come at a personal sacrifice to her.  Earthly mothers everywhere give of their body, blood, and heart to bring us into the world. A beautiful calling.

2. Eliza Snow did not bare children, but she has been a women of great influence and mentored many.  She used her spiritual gifts well and did great things for the Kingdom of God. This emulation of womanhood can also be called Mother. I honor Eliza, this pioneer Mother who went before me.  I also honor the many women who mentored me and loved me now. I consider them mothers to my spiritual journey.

Today,  I love both “the mother who bore me and the many mothers who bare with me.”

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Heavenly Mother’s Day: Sunrise on a Yearning Female Soul

Guest post by Domestic Philosopher
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Sunrise on a Yearning Female Soul

 

Cold bears down.

I fall upon my knees in prayer.

Enduring, hollow winds that fill these my broken bones and empty spaces.

I grieve in silence, “Father, where is my Mother?”

 

Minutes pass, these endless seasons.

My winter-minutes leaving me alone.

Still I pray, I pray and watch.

The signs of life and subtle embers, warmth is sure to come …

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Heavenly Mothers Day: BYU Heavenly Mother Art Show, May 8, 2015

Guest Post by Katie Payne

Katie just graduated with an MFA from Brigham Young University, and is about to move across the continent to start a new adventure with her
husband. She loves art, dill pickle dip, and long walks. Her personal website is www.katie-payne.com

 

My art over the last few years has tended to focus on my experience as a woman, especially as a Mormon woman. Most recently, I have created a large exhibition focusing on Heavenly Mother. The whole project started soon after I got married and moved to a foreign country with my husband. Unable to talk to my own mother on a regular basis, I felt that something was lacking. I started thinking more about my relationship with my mother, and since I had recently gone to the temple for the first time, about my relationship to the divine.

 

This thinking left me wondering about my Mother in Heaven. Where was she? Why didn’t we ever talk about her? I remembered a lesson in seminary where I was told that the reason we don’t talk about her is that she is so special and sacred. Just as we don’t talk about the sacred ceremonies of the temple, we should also refrain from giving too much attention to our sacred Mother in Heaven. I also heard that God didn’t want us to take her name in vain, so we couldn’t ever know her name.

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Are we living up to Christ’s example of justice for women?

Are we living up to Christ’s example of justice for women?

By Danielle Mooney

Danielle has lived in Boston since graduating from Wellesley College. She loves her husband, her dog, and soft serve ice cream cones.

 

Within the Gospels, we find stories about the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth that the authors compiled and composed for their particular early Christian communities. The Gospels function as communal faith-statements and each scene and saying they recount are part of the author’s broader theological message about who Jesus was and how we follow him.

As has been true throughout world history, during Christ’s life and the development of Christianity after his death, attitudes about and the treatment of women were overwhelmingly negative. This negativity is absent from the Gospels and that absence underscores the religious importance Jesus attached to equality for women and all other subjugated persons—to the constitutive role of justice in the Gospel.

To understand how truly radical, empowering, and inclusive Jesus’ ministry was, we need to have some understanding of the extent to which women were legally disenfranchised and positioned as socially and religiously inferior to men.

Rabbinic tradition of the time, and for many many years later, dictated that women were not allowed to study the Torah. This was so much looked down on that first century rabbi Eliezer is recorded as saying “Rather should the words of the Torah be burned than entrusted to a woman.” Women were discouraged from offering prayers, even in private. The daily prayers of Jewish men included the thanksgiving “praised be God that he has not created me a woman.” Women could not be counted toward the number of people required to form a congregation for communal worship (and unfortunately, this is true in our own church today). Men were advised to “speak not much with a woman,” including their wives, and speaking to a woman in public was undignified, even disreputable, for a rabbi. Women could not bear witness in a court of law. Men could choose to divorce a wife simply by giving her a writ, but women could not divorce their husbands. Common rabbinic sayings included “At the birth of a boy all are joyful, but at the birth of a girl all are sad,” and “When a boy comes into the world, peace comes into the world; when a girl comes, nothing comes.” Clearly, the condition of women was bleak.

And then came Jesus.

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