“If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves.” ~ Joseph Smith, Jr.
I’ve always maintained that I am no scholar. When I compose a blog post for Rational Faiths my contributions are primarily a product of fifty-plus years of living — the culmination of experiential knowledge coupled with revelatory enlightenment. This doesn’t mean I don’t read scholarly articles and books. It just means that’s not how I have learned the most important truths about life. I’ve learned by my own experience and through gifts of grace. As a result, my writing is primarily an expression of the heart.
This post is no different.
I’ve shared some of my thoughts and feelings about Mother in Heaven before. Coming to know Her is an ongoing process for me, as it will be for you if you choose to seek her. Even though my heart and mind have been open to knowing more about the nature of the divine feminine for many years, I feel like a newborn in this process. And, really, how could it be otherwise? Where in the world in past centuries do we find any reference to God the Mother — either in divinely inspired scripture or in mundane daily conversations? (This post answers part of that, but, really, it’s meant to be a rhetorical question.) Yet, I have felt her presence in real, almost tangible ways, much the same as I have felt Jesus Christ or God the Father in my life.
For me, the simplest path to knowledge of the nature of God, including the nature of the divine feminine, is through one’s own heart. I found her by opening my heart to the possibility that she exists. (See Alma, 32:27.) I’ve heard her voice at unexpected times and in unexpected places because I first had a desire to know her.
“ . . . When we understand the character of God, and know how to come to Him, He begins to unfold the heavens to us, and to tell us all about it. When we are ready to come to [Her], [S]he is ready to come to us.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, (2011), 36.)
I personally feel that anyone can know Heavenly Mother. All it takes is saying something like, “Hey, Mom, I’m here.” What mother doesn’t answer her children when they call? (Also rhetorical — because I know darn well there are times we don’t answer our kids. Especially when we have three or four of them under ten and, well, can I just use the bathroom once without being interrupted!)
One way to open our hearts is to express our ideas through art. Those of us who have a propensity for artistic expression have seen how God is often revealed through the creative process. The more we engage Her there, the more She shows up. And if you don’t happen to be someone who creates art then maybe you enjoy reading and seeing the work of others. Maybe you will come to know her first through their eyes and then begin to see her with your own.
I encourage you to consider contributing your artistic work to “A Mother Here” Art and Poetry Contest. This is a wonderful opportunity to open the door of heaven just a little wider and invite Mother in Heaven to spend more time here with us on the earth. If you don’t feel that you can contribute your own art, but you feel strongly about bringing images of Heavenly Mother to our community, you could support the project with a monetary donation. This contest is exceptional for a couple of reasons.
First, the cash awards are substantial — $2,000 in all.
Second, the judges are highly respected in their fields: Susan Elizabeth Howe, a poet and playwrite who teaches at Brigham Young University. Herman Du Toit, former head of museum research at Brigham Young University’s Museum of Art.
Please take a moment to visit the site. Organizers have compiled a lovely collection of essays and poetry for you to read. You can also learn about the rich Latter-day Saint history of honoring Heavenly Mother in poetry, music, fiction and visual art. If you have any feeling for or interest in the idea of Mother in Heaven, this is good place to go.
I personally feel that any experience of the divine feminine is worthy of expression. Sometimes that expression is highly personal and we choose to keep it to ourselves. But sometimes we don’t mind sharing. . .
a poem about God the Mother
her heart, pulsing
against my cheek.
She unlatches me;
gives me to the care
of my brother,
her firstborn Son.
She is weaning me and
I am weeping mother’s milk.
. . . . Melody Newey © 2013
I think we won’t be able to move forward as a Mormon feminist movement until we acknowledge ourselves to be feminine divines in SPITE OF the example of our heavenly mother. Why and how could we ever look to this mother for leadership, as she has never, ever cared for us, seen us recognized as equals and worthy of respect and self-ownership. No prophets ever said that women should not be exploited, dead-ended into baby-making, cooking and cleaning, whether she wants to or not. Men can make decisions but women are given nothing but the false doctrine of obedience.
If she has power, she uses none of it on us.
I think we need to stop the futile hunting for the willfully-absent mother, and become the leader we wish our mother was. There is nothing about Heavenly Mother’s banner that elevates women to full personhood.
Apparently your experience with divine feminine is different than mine.
The violence and domination that men have brought to the world will be limited in part by the opposing strength of women and men who embrace a different model of God. I believe that different model includes acknowledgement of and inclusion of Woman in our theology. Indeed, many of us are becoming the leader we wish our mother was. And, in my experience, she’s expressing her divine power directly through us. That’s how I see it any way.
“If she has power, she uses none of it on us.”
This has not been my experience. And it reminds me of that old faith building story where the guy is falling off of his roof and prays earnestly that the Lord will save him. His pants catch on a nail and his descent stops, and he chuckles and says, “Never mind, thanks for nothing.”
Perhaps you are simply not seeing her power or recognizing it for what it is. Just a thought.
I actually heard more often than not a theory behind her “absence” in formal literature and recognition being from God for her benefit. To paraphrase, God and she agreed not to have her out in the open so much so that we as people wouldn’t do to her name what God and She knew would happen to his. I don’t think Heavenly Mother is absent at all, I just think that we as a people have not taken the initiative to seek her and respect her for her role. We struggle to respect God for his, and we have his information all over the place. The premise for this is just a theory, I know, but I still believe that we would have more Heavenly Mother in our lives if we sought her and made ourselves ready to receive her.
This is a Mormon folk-myth that has no actual doctrinal backing and is quite damaging on a personal level when you really start to think about it from a mortal woman’s perspective. Apparently my eternal destiny is that I’m going to be so sensitive in eternity that I can’t handle my kids being bad, so they just won’t talk to me EVER.
However, I do totally agree with you that it’s us that have done this-not Her. God also gets forgotten if the people choose that. My own personal theory is that that knowledge is there if it becomes important enough for us as a church to seek it.
I’m not making fun of you, but–
a home teacher in his 80s who is about as ‘conservative’ as an LDS person can be (and still be a delightful latter day saint)–
once came to our home and said, “Heavenly Mother is not mentioned in the scriptures, became men wrote the scriptures, and men like to leave women out!”–
when a male member of our family repeated this ‘myth’, the elderly brother snorted and said, “a GOD does not need protecting from anyone or anything!”–
The female marriage partner laughed aloud–
while the male was consternated–
I am confused by this comment. What about the doctrine of Heavenly Mother suggests this? It seems like it is more what you are bringing to the table that paints Her in this light.
I commented above about the myth that Father in Heaven wants to protect Mother in Heaven.
This is the explanation that (I am a woman) my husband has always given.
But my husband, a convert to the church, had little righteous female influence in his early life–
and was drawn to the LDS concept of Heavenly Mother (before there began to be so much controversy about it)–
and had a powerful experience with Heavenly Mother. He doesn’t talk about it, except to me. But it was an undeniable experience with the feminine divine.
I, on the other hand, surrounded by powerful and righteous and loving female ancestors who protected and taught and nurtured me–
have felt little, if any, need to seek out the feminine divine.
Is that a dichotomy?
My thoughts are that She is not nor has She been left out. If we see her as the comforter that she is, she has always had part in the Godhead and family of God and fulfills Her role as nurturer and teacher. Easy enough- no body of a man because She is a woman. The awareness is such that people in general are not ready for this. Thus, the vision of Father and Son without the Mother. She speaks to our hearts. still, small voice…Think about it.
Melody, thank you so much for this post and for the beautiful poem!
I also agree that we can look to our own hearts to find our Mother. As Mormons, we’re so used to looking to the hierarchy for answers that we sometimes don’t trust our own spiritual instincts. But I have found Her there, as anyone can.
The milk of Her love is sweet. It nurtures every one of us, every day.
It is unfortunate that Mother Goddess worship has been lost in antiquity. Continuance of the worship would have created a common bond with humanity. Mother Child relationship has a universal appeal.