Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Feminine Spirit (book excerpt)

The following is an excerpt on the role of the two energies of awakening; masculine and feminine and seeks to point out where even the teachings of Jesus contained them but were largely scrubbed from mainstream texts or were simply left out altogether by their authors because of their chauvinism. 

From Waking The Infinite

When you awaken, you realize the very act of this energy moving through you is this transcendent love, which is the embodiment of the trascendent in you. While I was never church-going or a big fan of Christianity, I understood THIS was what Christ Consciousness was!  Had to be.  I had to discard all those Sunday school notions of purity and piety, though....I don't think they were true....but was replaced with a much more realistic and believable indwelling spirit.  You begin to realize that this was never something outside of you but an integral part of your own experience, and further, is the result of something that is universal amongst all humans, despite religions, caste, or sex.   Further, The Gospel of Philip  points to how it was understood in his day that there was a feminine aspect of the divine and its role in awakening  when he said 

“Some said, "Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit." They are in error. They do not know what they are saying. When did a woman ever conceive by a woman?”

Philip was merely expressing what many already knew, something easy to miss in our current day when reading such a loaded passage as the one I have just shared with you…..which was that the Holy Ghost was known to be the feminine aspect of the divine,  and so the idea of Mary conceiving from a feminine force was absurd, and as Philip correctly contended, an error.  It looks like there  was an effort underway even then to sweep the divine feminine’s own validity under the rug in order to lessen it in the face of this new radical teacher named Jesus.  In our current day the divine feminine has not been swept under the rug but it HAS been masked in the same way that a ghost might be masked or is mysterious to us.  As time has gone by, the feminine aspect of the divine was increasingly set aside, denied or ignored until very few even knew what this anonymous seeming “holy ghost” was all about. We mention the Holy Ghost in rather vague terms.  It is an aspect of the deity, yes, but of what kind?  If God is the father, and Christ the child, then what is the Holy Ghost? Anyone?  Under a paternalistic  banner, the Holy Ghost was subsumed into the paternalistic view and the roots of the feminine were forgotten by many in the mainstream.  
This doesn't change the reality of the masculine and feminine dynamic in our spiritual life.  
The gnostics, long sidelined, knew and even practiced a religion that included both the masculine and feminine traits of the deity. By the time the Nicene Council was called, some of Jesus’ words were shortened to simply include “I am one with the Father.”  And yet, the voices from the past have not been completely silenced.  We have books where Jesus is known to have said he was one with both the Mother and the Father. These documents have come back to us at a perfect time, actually, a time when we are much more ready to move out of centuries of paternalistic control and embrace the larger reality of our spiritual selfhood.  The message, through the Nag Hammadi, which emerged from the sands of Egypt, has been revealed in a time when women have begun to see more and more rights afforded them, in a world slowly but surely coming to grips with issues of egalitarianism.    
In a text by Hippolytus that has suggested that there was a secret teaching of Jesus that he gave to Mary and his other followers, it revealed that the followers of Jesus prayed ‘From Thee, Father, and through Thee, Mother, the two immortal names, Parents of the divine being, and thou, dweller in heaven, humanity, of the mighty name . ..’ (Hippolytus (170-236 AD), Refutationis Omnium Haeresium 5.6). 
Its understandable how such teachings could have been lost.  They were lost because they were stamped out from the beginning.  What has been removed may be difficult for others to reclaim, absent an awakening where the truth becomes manifest within the self in a very simple and clear way. There was a very strong desire to try and demonize Mary, and when I grew up, Mary was considered a prostitute that Jesus turned into a follower.  In truth, Mary was more than that.  She was the wife of Jesus as the older documents, some which predate even the ones chosen to make up the bible, point out explained in various ways such as  “. . . the companion of the [Savior is] Mary Magdalene. [But Christ loved] her more than [all] the disciples and used to kiss her [often] on her [mouth]. The rest of [the disciples were offended by it . . .. They said to him, ‘Why do you love her more than all of us?’ The Savior answered and said to them, ‘Why do I not love you as [I love her?]” (Gospel of Philip 63.32 - 64.5; Nag Hammadi Library p. 138
The Gospel of St. John describes the Holy Ghost as female explaining, "the Spirit of Truth whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Her not, neither knoweth Her; but ye know Her, for she dwelleth with you, and shall be in you."  In the Gospel of the Hebrews, Jesus is quoted as saying "Even so did my Mother, the Holy Spirit, take me by one of my hairs and carry me away to Mt. Tabor. Again, in the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus says, "My mother gave me a body, but my true Mother (the Holy Spirit) gave me life."  Even the early Hebrew Christians, referred to as the Ebionites, described the Holy Ghost as feminine.
In the Apocryphon of John, the author recounts a vision that he has had of Jesus shortly after his crucifixion.  John describes seeing a triadic being in the vision that speaks to him and goes on to recount the encounter of what Jesus’ spirit was saying to him, 'He said to me, "John, Jo[h]n, why do you doubt, and why are you afraid? ... I am the one who [is with you] always. I [am the Father]; I am the Mother; I am the Son."
Sadly, the history of the rising of the feminine in the Christian tradition was met with derisive and often calculated cunning designed to stamp out any suggestion that women were somehow on par with men spiritually. Bishop Irenaeus (ca. 140 - 203 AD) wrote about efforts to include women in the ritual practice of the tradition by taking and active part in them.  Irenaeus goes on to suggest that one man who has given women such a high position in the church must be involved in concocting aphrodisiacs in order to lure them into such practice! Marcus, the man in question, was seducing women into the church, using his powers on women like a sorcerer, bidding them to prophecy, and to be involved in all manner of things that only the men were considered able to do within the newly  formed church. (Irenaeus, Book I, ch. 13, § 1 - 7; Refutationis Omnium Haeresium, )
Sadly, by sowing fear, we play on the worst in people arousing fear and even hatred.  This is how nations are tricked into going to war with other nations, how one sex is caused to be seen as taking the fall for some past deed that explains why things are the way they are (supposedly).  Fear is used.  We must go to war with Iraq because we do not want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.  As we all know, the pretext that Americans were given for invading Iraq was entirely without merit, but the fear card played well in an across the board concerted effort to demonize and galvanize public support.  In the same way have people down through time sought to use these weapons for purposes of propaganda, to turn minds and hearts from their greater natures to a lesser one, one crippled by fear and made little by hatred. 
 The Gnostic teacher Marcellina claimed to be in possession of secret teachings handed down from Jesus to Mary Magdeline, and  if this seems exaggerated, consider that in the Gospel of Mary, shortly after the crucifixion of Jesus, Peter said to Mary, "Sister, we know that the Savior loved you more than the rest of women. Tell us the words of the Savior which you remember - which you know (but) we do not, nor have we heard them." Mary answered and said, "What is hidden from you I will proclaim to you."   So Mary begins to speak to them of the things that Jesus had spoken to her in private.  After hearing this, Andrew says "Say what you (wish to) say about what she has said. I at least do not believe that the Savior said this. For certainly these teachings are strange ideas." Peter then erupts in anger saying “Did he really speak privately with a woman, (and) not openly to us? Are we to turn about and all listen to her? Did he prefer her to us?’ Mary replies to him saying, ‘My brother Peter, what do you think? Do you think that I thought this up myself in my heart, or that I am lying about the Savior?’ Levi, who adds at this point a mediating principle in this interesting exchange says,‘Peter, you have always been hot-tempered. Now I see you contending against the woman like the adversaries. But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you, indeed, to reject her? Surely the Lord knew her very well. That is why he loved her more than us.’ (Gospel of Mary 17.18 - 18.15.). 
In yet another exchange between Peter and Mary, which occurs in the Pistis Sophia, Peter complains that Mary is dominating the conversation with Jesus while taking priority away from Peter and the other male apostles. He urges Jesus to silence her but he is swiftly  refused by Jesus! Mary admits to Jesus later  that she does not dare to speak to him freely because, as she explains ‘Peter makes me hesitate; I am afraid of him, because he hates the female race.” 
            It would seem that even amongst the followers of Jesus, there were tensions and egoistic struggles.  They had trouble believing that Jesus had told Mary all the things that she had expounded upon.  But this is not a singular expression in the texts, though, for Thomas was also taken aside by Jesus and told some things that the other followers were not told, and when he was asked what they were, Thomas deferred, saying that if he were to do that, surely the disciples would stone him to death.  What could have been so radical that Jesus could have told Thomas that he himself would not disclose it to even Jesus’ own followers?  Could it have been the role that both the male and female have in an awakening, what he called the kingdom? Could it have been simple truth that the people of that time simply would have difficulty in hearing?  Could it be the same fear of derision that Irenaeus heaped upon Marcus who included, rather than excluded the role of women in spiritual life?

©Parker Stafford

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