Divine Feminine, Gaia, Yemanja, Grandmother Moon, Sophia, Mary, Ann, You
I know deep within my soul that to embrace the Divine Feminine is the way to save our planet. We know that to bring harmony to humanity the Divine Feminine must be illuminated, praised, loved, honored and prayed to along with the Divine Masculine. We know that by calling Her name including our own we are embodying the Divine; we become Her hands, feet and heart. We gain the courage and wisdom to be the change makers needed today.
Finding Her in patriarchy is not easy and in some settings not safe. When we honored and celebrated Sophia, Divine Wisdom, at the Re-Imagining God ecumenical conference in 1991, some women attending were fired from their jobs and some received death threats. We know that to embrace the Divine Feminine is healing and empowering for many women and men and frightening to those who want to maintain patriarchy.
My friend Donna Roberts along with Donna Read, two outstanding filmmakers, are working on a film about the African Brazilian religion called Candomble’, a nature-centered tradition traced back to Africa, that embraces the Divine Feminine. Candomblé is one Brazilian “manifestation” of the spiritual traditions that enslaved people brought to the New World. Filmed in beautiful Bahia,Brazil, most of Candomblé’s leaders are women elders. Followers wear white, especially on Fridays, in honor of Oxala, the deity of peace associated with Jesus. Oxum is the Goddess of fresh water, Xango, justice, Yansan, winds and storm, Oxossi protector of forests, and Yemanja, great Mother Ocean. Under the watch of the Catholic Church centuries ago, in order to preserve their African practices, Candomblé’s male and female deities became syncretized with Jesus, Mary and other saints. Many still uphold this strange mix of icons; others are adamantly opposed. It is a dynamic, diverse, vibrant and deeply inspirational culture, thriving in the coastal city of Salvador, with 3 million people known as the City of Women.
We held the Anglican Worldwide Encounter; Churches in Solidarity with Women in Salvador, Brazil in 1992. This conference radically changed the Anglican Communion by illuminating women’s gifts and issues and by bringing the circle experience where everyone was equally valued and equally shared the information, power and resources. The Divine Feminine was quietly present throughout.
I believe this film will change hearts and minds. Audiences will see and listen to the wise women elders of Candomblé, connecting on a heart level to this important religion which places the natural world and women at the center of its rituals, practices and medicines. The honoring and living the principles of Candomblé are now practiced in Brazil and other countries in the Americas, including Uruguay, Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Cuba, the United States, as well as in parts of Europe.
To support the production of this film so it can be completed and shown far and wide go to: www.projectzula.com.
I am blessed to be an Episcopalian connected to Native American Episcopalians who also teach Indigenous wisdom and practices that are nature-centered and balance the Divine Feminine and Masculine in language and daily practices.
Grandmother God rose last night in the face of the full moon. I stood out in the still summer heat watching her. How pale you look I said. How hot you look she said. We shared a smile. Knowing God is seeing God where you find her. In images and languages and the thousand faces of her world. In the intuition of faith we find her more clearly than in the narrow lines of our theology. Her scandal is an intimacy with all of us who are her family, who call her by many names, and stand outside on hot summer nights to greet her when she comes to call. Written by Episcopal Native American Bishop Steven Charleston
When we experience the Divine Feminine and call her by many names including our own, we step into leadership of right relationships with all creation. In watching a good film, in a sacred circle conversation with people who are also searching and loving, in the knowing we are Nature and want to learn from nature, Indigenous wisdom and science, we become healed and empowered to be the change makers so greatly needed now.