Guest Post: Call Me Crazy, But I Hope Leadership Never Embraces Heavenly Mother

Guest post by Rachael, who grew up in the heart of Utah Valley in a large LDS family. Her greatest moments of peace were not inside the church buildings but in the American Fork Canyon and the foothills close to home. She worships the Divine Feminine and is a practicing Pagan. She has presented at the Claremont Conference of Mormon Studies, the BYU Conference on Mysticism, and at Sunstone. 

After the recent Women’s Session of General Conference in which it was again discouraged to talk about Heavenly Mother, my thoughts have inevitably turned to her again. I am a post-Mormon who hasn’t practiced or attended church for over a decade, but a big part of my heart still connects with the Mormon feminine divine who calls so many of us to a deeper search. She is hidden in official church discourse, yet grassroots channels and social media have elevated her, created poetry and art in her image, and even created events to celebrate her. Maybe church leadership just can’t see that the more they try to hide her, the more we will find her. And although it sounds strange, I hope the church leadership never embraces the doctrine of our Heavenly Mother. Here’s why.

Based on doctrine alone, we know a select few things about her: She is a resurrected and exalted being just like Heavenly Father. She is his wife. Logical extension of the doctrine concludes she is the mother of our spirits, just like Heavenly Father is the father of our spirits. However we cannot worship her even though she is a god, and we are discouraged from relating to her even though she is the mother.

Most of what we know about her is in terms of “not’s” and “don’ts.” She is a god who isn’t worshiped. She is a mother who does not mother. She is an exalted being who somehow still needs protection from humans. The church leadership, in their attempt to hide her, has made her into an obscure and shadowy doctrine that is full of paradoxes and contradictions.

But here is why I think this is so exciting. Because church leadership has refused to take ownership of the doctrine of the Heavenly Mother, they have inadvertently surrendered her into the realm of speculation and, I would argue, mysticism. Mystics from all faith traditions claim that they experience their god directly, and without the intervention of the authority or hierarchy that normally gatekeeps the spiritual experience. Mystics experience God as an intimate and personal reality, often claiming that they feel god in their bodies or all around them, as an infinite source of love that cannot be mitigated by institutions. No matter how much leaders tell us we should not worship her, they cannot control the hearts of people who are ready to connect with the Feminine Divine.

Because official doctrine and text refuse to tell us about her, we are given a kind of freedom that we wouldn’t have otherwise, to relate to her directly. We are not going to be able to get to know Heavenly Mother through the scriptures, through the Brethren’s revelation, or through any traditional sanctioned methods. We’re going to get to know her directly. Through prayer. Meditation. Personal experience. Art. Poetry. Relationships with others. Through our bodies, minds, and senses.

I recently read a book called Crux by Jean Guerrero. In the book, she quotes the philosopher Chesterton who basically says: the fuel for mysticism is never the answers, it is the questions themselves. And the thing about the questions is that they are almost always paradoxical. It is the paradoxes themselves that fuel the mystic’s search. And because the paradoxes are never resolved, the fuel is unlimited. The richness that lives inside of the paradoxes is almost infinite. And that is exactly how I feel about this search that I’m on for Heavenly Mother because she is full of questions, full of contradictions, and full of paradoxes.

The church has attempted to water down and ignore these complexities, but my premise is that the beauty of the Feminine Divine lies exactly in the unknown.  Yes, it is infuriating and problematic how our leadership rejects her, but I would rather find her on my own than have her filtered through the constricting lens of hierarchical dogma. Her mystery has given me room for a sort of creative mysticism. Her mystery has given me room to relate to her from my heart and my experience. I know it is against the leader’s commands to relate to her, but no institution can stop the reality that the Divine Feminine is reentering our collective consciousness and we want to know her. I believe she wants to be known.

This post is part of a series, Contemplating Heavenly Mother. Find more from this series here.

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14 Responses

  1. Anna says:

    I agree with you. I don’t trust the brethren to know what they are talking about when they try to tell us as women what we are. Talk about mansplaining. These men get up n front of a group of women to tell us all about us. And most of it is what THEY want, not who we are or what is best for us, or anything true about women. So, if they don’t know about women, who they can see, if they don’t see our humanity, divinity, equality with them, then how am I supposed to trust them to actually know anything about a Mother God. All they would do is tell us what they want the Mother God to be. And we already know they want her to be invisible, quiet, unimportant, less than, and unreachable. They do not see human women as equal to themselves, so how are they going to see the Goddess as equal to God? Why on earth would I listen to them about the godhood in me? They have already failed.

    What’s more, by their fruits we shall know them. We know they have amassed hoards of money, investments, land. Over one hundred billion sits in a bank collecting interest. Is this what Jesus would do? Most certainly not the Jesus in the New Testament. So, if they don’t know Jesus, and they don’t know the Mother God, why should I look to them to tell me how to be a daughter of Heavenly parents? I can see by their unwillingness to acknowledge her that they have failed.

  2. Lily says:

    Every time they describe the characteristics of women I think, “No, you are describing the way you think women SHOULD be.” As a male, do you really have the right to explain what women are supposed to be like? No, I get to decide what I am like.

  3. Katie Rich says:

    I love the idea that the mystery inherent in undefined, ignored doctrine gives room for mysticism.

  4. So much this. Every bit of definition they give has only restricted Her.

  5. TeresaHart says:

    The brothers are afraid of the power of the Heavenly Mother Goddess. Empowered women are not easy to control. Keep just saying no to the brothers. No is such a shocking word for them they often run away. I love to stun them and see them back away. Women almost always are more knowledgeable about scripture and we now have Google. I love my smart sisters!

  6. Anna says:

    I remember a long time ago, Boyd K Packer was pounding the pulpit and yelling that the Holy Ghost is Male! Male! Male! Male! And I think to myself, Me thinks the gentleman doth protest too much. Therefore, I suspect the Holy Ghost is female. Anytime an insecure little boy (d) has to pound the pulpit and yell, means he suspects he is wrong and he can’t stand it.

  7. Bailey says:

    Yes to this! “No matter how much leaders tell us we should not worship her, they cannot control the hearts of people who are ready to connect with the Feminine Divine.”

    I have loved connecting with the Feminine Divine as Her full self rather than in a role as Heavenly Mother. Sure, mother is one part of her identity. But she isn’t defined by her relationship to others. She is Herself just as I am me. Most of the time I picture her as something like a Valkyrie, a warrior, flowing with strength and power.

    • Kate says:

      This is the most profound thing I have read in a long time and will be forever grateful for these words.

  8. Scar says:

    The more I [used to] put myself in Mormon doctrine and think of myself as a future Heavenly Mother, the more depressed I became-cut off from my children like that. It helped me realize the church had it all wrong, and I didn’t want to be a part of it.

  9. Natasha says:

    Yes. I have been grateful many times that no one tells me who She is. I find her myself.

  10. Alissa says:

    My problem is sure I can find this truth on my own but if a Feminine Devine cannot be acknowledged by the whole then my “good, adhering” friends or family can dismiss me and my truth. My own children can distrust their mother because she goes against the institution, the prophet, etc. We need to keep voicing our desire for the doctrine to expand because we don’t want to grow more mistrust, or more hope in a benevolent patriarchy. We have to do the work that would truly foster an acknowledgment of the worth of ALL in a spirit of gratitude and collaboration.

  11. Adrianne Coleman says:

    This is exquisite thinking and writing. Thank you for sharing your viewpoint. It resonates so deeply with me!

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