Many of us, through different religions, have developed an image of God, perhaps as an impersonal form of divine creative energy, like the big bang that birthed the cosmos, or as a benevolent parent-- father or mother (more usually, stern father).
Throughout Christian history, God is painted as a Father figure, but the essence of his concern and love is often presented in its mothering energy as a breast offering milk, in the form of the Madonna.
I prefer not to humanize the God energy in any particular way, but having been brought up Christian, my habit has been to pray to Our Lord. So now I add Our Lady, to balance the masculine image with a feminine one. My most intimate connection to the divine presence is through meditation, through contemplating the stillness in motion, or the source of life within, which can be felt inside the body, and has no gender.
But the idea of god’s gender sticks – which is why the Tao appeals to me. It is interesting that the ancient Chinese called the Tao the Mother of the universe – as well as saying it was nameless and formless. In her book, A Woman's Journey to God, Joan Borysenko quotes a well know Taoist woman philosopher Dr Zhang I Hsien (known as Lily Siou) as saying, “Female and male, called yin and yang in Tao, give joy to each other. They support each other and give life to the next generations… A universal law of Tao is that when the yin is complete, it gives birth to the yang. When yang is complete, it reaches satisfaction and gives energy to the yin; yin is the mother of yang. Both reach the fullness of their potential and give birth to the opposite.”
I find it useful to set aside trying to figure out whether God is male or female, and imagine these powers as feeding each other and birthing each other in the great swirling spiral of light and dark matter that is the universe, continually growing and expanding, dying and creating new life.
In the meantime, I am developing a love of feminine images of the sacred, in whatever form and from whichever culture. They are mostly new to me, so carry no cultural or religious baggage. My current favourites are Our Lady of Guadalupe from Mexico and Kwan Yin, the Buddhist goddess of compassion. Perhaps this represents what I need most in my menopausal journey right now – compassion towards my self, more rest, less judgment, less demands made on myself, and more understanding of my limitations.
Do some research on your own dear readers, to find a mother god image that speaks to you, or attend a class I am giving in January at the West Island Women’s Centre on Embracing the Feminine, sacred symbols of motherhood.
Email me for more information, if you like.