The Divine Feminine

Chrysalis art by Holly Sierra

“When the world was born, I came into being. I am the unfading beauty of times to come. In me Grace is at work to divinize the soul. I shall continue to disclose myself to you. I am the Eternal Feminine.” ~ Teilhard de Chardin

One great difference between the Eastern and Western branches of Christianity – perhaps even the greatest – can best be understood by examining the very different routes taken in translating the Greek word, theoria. In the East, theoria meant contemplation. In the West, it came to mean theory.

Western Civilization has rigidly theorized, defined and dogmatized almost everything revered by early (pre-Constantine) Christianity. Over the centuries, Christianity has evolved into a horribly out of balance (out of touch with reality) top-down patriarchy. This is why many of us speak of “The End Times.” ‘End of what,’ we ponder? End of an age? That’s for certain! The final, gasping breaths and end of an exhausted, misogynistic Western worldview? Probably. And if so, ‘good riddance,’ but let’s hope Western Civilization can be salvaged by evolving (finally) a more balanced and rational spirituality.

The journey to the re-emergence of the Divine Feminine will involve a conscious act of human spirit and genuine contemplation, not simply memorized “correct beliefs.” Correct beliefs and rigid, impenetrable dogma: these are instruments of manipulation and control. Would that more Christians recognize that. You might recall what Jesus said of religious authoritarians: “For you are like whitened tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but inwardly are full of dead men’s bones…” (Mt 23:27)

Theologians all agree we can articulate absolutely nothing about the incomprehensible essence of God, an eternal, unknowable mystery. And although we can voice nothing about God’s essence (ousia), which is the transcendent nature of God, we can, however, glean much from the experience of God’s activities (enérgeia) on Earth, God’s immanent nature. Some faiths teach God is heavily involved in the world (God’s will) while others extol individual free will, a philosophical disputation for some other time.

Divine Transcendence by Michelle Oravitz

I believe it is imperative to have faith in a personal God with whom one can build a relationship. This automatically precludes gods of abstract forces, concentrations of energy and Prime Movers. We have at our disposal a plentiful inventory of personal Gods to choose from. For me, at the time I wrote Chrysalis and since, my own personal God has been the Divine Feminine. In fact, Jewish mysticism declares that God’s activities on Earth, God’s immanence, are indeed the actions of the Shekinah – “the feminine presence of God who dwells among us.” This teaching is based on writings from the Talmud and Kabbalah.

The Shekinah was in the mist that guided the ancient Israelites through the desert to the Promised Land. Throughout human history there have been many manifestations (theophanies) of the Divine Feminine. Until, that is, she was repressed – some say exiled. “We know and understand by historical and current world conditions, that patriarchy is the force of power and suppression of the Feminine, rooted for millennia in religious doctrine…” (Source)

Orthodox icon of Holy Wisdom (Sophia)

The Greeks knew this mystical feminine presence as Sophia, Holy Wisdom (left). The Romans as Magna Mater – The Great Mother. In ancient Egypt she was first Hathor and later Isis. In the Northern Lands she was Freya; in Celtic Lands, she was known as Danu and as Shakti in Hindustan. In Chrysalis she reveals herself as The Moon, the art adorned with Ishtar’s Eight Pointed Star of New Beginnings. And in Christian mystical thought she is Mary the Mother of God.

I [Sophia] am the breath of the Most High, blanketing the Earth like mist, filling the sky like towering clouds. I encompass distant galaxies, and walk the innermost abyss. Over crest and trough, over sea and land, over every people and nation, I hold sway. ~ Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 24:3-6

In Chrysalis we propagate the “breath of the Most High” as implicating prana or pranic energy, which continuously traverses the seven chakras and reunites with its wellspring, the Universal Soul. Prana is a Sanskrit word meaning life force. However, we are unable to evolve a personal relationship with prana in the same idealized way we can relate to Sophia or, say, to the Divine Feminine. Consequently, we tend to ascribe human characteristics to our deities. A process called anthropomorphism.

Those qualities we humans ascribe to the Divine Feminine include gentleness, dependability, constancy, nurturing, compassion and empathy, to name a few. I attach no small significance to the fact that Queen Elizabeth was often photographed wearing a lovely brooch that accentuated the eight-pointed Glorious Star of Regeneration and New Beginnings. In Chrysalis, regeneration is symbolized by the Phoenix.

Will the death of Elizabeth II mark a new beginning and herald a new era? In practicality, of course it will. For me, and perhaps for many others, it is proving difficult to let go of the Elizabethan Era, the only era we have ever known. The Queen provided our material grounding – our refuge from the storms and uncertainty of disruptive change. We shall now rely upon the Divine Feminine more than ever. Obviously, I am an Anglophile, a staunch royalist who values tradition. I once lived in Celtic England (Cornwall) and will forever cherish those days just as I have cherished this remarkable woman.

The Queen is dead. Long live the King.

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, Queen Elizabeth II

An excellent book by Caitlin Matthews titled Sophia: Goddess of Wisdom, Bride of God is highly recommended.

© Toney Brooks, 2022

Whispers of Snow Spirit

Elen of the Ways, a.k.a. Snow Spirit © Holly Sierra

Snow Spirit is an enigmatic goddess who has traveled eons to make her presence known to us in these troubled times. In Platonic parlance an eon, in addition to being a very long period of time, points to a power existing from eternity; an emanation or phase of the supreme deity.

In this case, “supreme deity” alludes to the Great Goddess, mother to all the Mother Goddesses throughout history, of which there are many. Every culture has had it’s own. Even Islam, a rigidly monotheistic culture, worshiped Al-Lat. Her name means The Goddess. Al-lat was a moon goddess, the wife of Allah, moon god to the Arabians.

In Judaism, the feminine presence of God who dwells among us is called The Shekinah, translated as “caused to dwell.” It was the Glory of the Shekinah who led the Israelites out of the desert. In Jewish mysticism she is said to be “in sorrowful exile” going on now for 2,500 years or so.

We mention The Shekinah (a.k.a. the Divine Feminine) 8 times in the Chrysalis Tarot Companion Book. Here’s my personal favorite:

“The exile of the Shekinah finds its cultural analog in the separation
of the cosmic soul (Psyche) from human conscious awareness
(ego). This is a predictable consequence of a materialist worldview
that insists upon the primacy of matter and pigeonholes consciousness
as a mere function of matter—specifically, a function of the gray
matter inside the human skull.”

In Chrysalis, we believe (1) in panpsychism – everything in the physical world possesses some degree of consciousness; (2) in non-local consciousness – that consciousness exists independent of the brain, and (3) that consciousness is the timeless and eternal Ground of All Being – a metaphor for the Absolute or the Great Goddess.

Artistic interpretation by Velizar Simeonovski

It’s little wonder that in these days the Great Goddess chooses to come to us from a cave in Southwestern France 13,000 years ago as Snow Spirit.

The Upper Paleolithic culture of that time was called the Magdalenian Culture. The actual engraving (shown in this link) in Trois-Freres cave is androgynous. Since the cave was re-discovered in 1914, the logical assumption at the time was the engraving depicted a male sorcerer in the form of a therianthrope (part human, part animal) as shown in the artistic interpretation on the left.

Holly’s drawing of Snow Spirit corrects this error – the Magdalenian Culture was matrilineal and matriarchal and accordingly they would have evolved female deities and female shamans.

You can learn more about the Magdalenian Culture and Magdalenian Girl, whose skeletal remains rest at the Field Museum in Chicago here.

The incarnation of Snow Spirit we’re most familiar with is Elen of the Ways, a Celtic Welsh goddess. Here’s what mythologist and artist Judith Shaw wrote about Elen:

“Elen of the Ways is She who guides us on these paths of change. Like so many Celtic Goddesses, She is elusive, shimmering, changeable. She endures through the ages, shifting into what each time needs Her to be. She is an antlered goddess who rules the Ways, the Roads, the Passages of human life, both physical and spiritual.”

I personally believe that restoring Elen and Snow Spirit to conscious awareness will help guide and protect our journey through the murky corridors of the present paradigm shift, which is becoming murkier with each passing day. Paleolithic goddesses are enigmatic because we know virtually nothing about them. We are able, however, to infer and intuit certain characteristics, attributes and symbology as well as glean their whispered messages – consciousness is timeless.

For example, the Paleolithic Magdalenian Culture existed on the cusp of the Mesolithic or Middle Stone Age. Magdalenian Girl’s fragile world was changing as radically as ours is today. Her own paradigm shift and its lessons for us will be the subject of our next blog.


Forensic bust of Magdalenian Girl, The Field Museum, Chicago, by artist Elisabeth Daynes

© Toney Brooks 2/2/22

Day 2 – Behold Thy Mother

Holly_Sierra-MoonThe Chrysalis Moon card is an appropriate symbol for the Celtic goddess Brighid. Here’s the reason why.

The ancient Indo-Europeans and Proto-Celts knew the goddess as The Great Mother. Since those days she has been known by many other names. The Israelites call her The Shekinah, the feminine presence of God. The Celtic tribes that left Anatolia in Eastern Turkey to migrate throughout Europe and beyond knew her as the Goddess Danu. They named the River Danube for her.

The names of other Celtic tribes are similarly recognizable by place names on modern maps such as the Parisii (Paris), the Belgae (Belgium) and the Britannia, Galatians, Gauls and the Hibernians (Ireland), who today still celebrate both the Old Gods and the New. Brighid, pagan goddess and Christian saint, belongs to both camps.

The Catholic Church, as we all know, sought to stamp out paganism wherever it was found. They built churches on top of pagan holy sites and made saints out of goddesses that were particularly difficult to get rid of. The goddess and the saint were, as we say, syncretized.

The supernatural family of the Celtic Danu was known as the Tuatha Dé Danann – the People (or tribe) of the Goddess Danu. The Tuatha were highly skilled in the magical arts and were banished from Heaven because, well, they knew too much. Among the deities that came down from Heaven on a cloud of mist was Brighid who, like many other goddesses, is akin to The Great Mother – the Shekinah or Divine Feminine.

The principle attribute of all Great Mother goddesses is the Moon just as the Sun is the principle attribute or symbol of their male consorts. The return of the Divine Feminine to share dominion with the masculine are central themes of the New Paradigm – not to replace the patriarchy, mind you, but simply to restore proper yin-yang ☯ balance. You can easily anticipate how much turmoil such “balance” might create in the corridors of patriarchal power, most notably The Vatican.

St.Brigids-Flame-Christmas-2009Brighid is the Goddess of Home and Hearth. In olden days she along with her 19 priestesses tended Brighid’s Flame, a tradition that lives on. Today Brighid’s Flame burns bright in a town square in County Kildare (left).

Throughout the British Isles and Ireland you will come across Holy Wells and other monuments dedicated to Brighid. Many wells are decorated with “clooties” like the ones on the Chrysalis Six of Spirals card. The clooties represent the intentions of the faithful.

My personal favorite Brighid tradition is her Cauldron of Rebirth, which is actually a Welsh tradition. Like Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, Brittany, Scotland the Isle of Man were once Celtic countries.

We celebrate Brighid in February because according to the Celtic lunar calendar Feb. 2, 2019, is Imbolc, one of the major festivals of the year. From the link:

“It is time to let go of the past and to look to the future, clearing out the old, making both outer and inner space for new beginnings. This can be done in numerous ways, from spring cleaning your home to clearing the mind and heart to allow inspiration to enter for the new cycle. It’s a good time for wish-making or making a dedication.” Or a novena!

Imbolc art by Nicol Skaggs

© Toney Brooks, 2019