By Heidi Doggett
“Heavenly Mother” entered my religious vocabulary sometime during Middle School. She was a thing that might exist, nebulously up there doing stuff, but not stuff related to me, because that was God’s job. He didn’t want us talking to her, because she wasn’t God. Or maybe because He wanted to protect her, like any good husband wants to protect his wife from their children.
I don’t believe in this Mother.
I imagine myself as “Heavenly Mother”, spending my days locked in my bedroom with the lights off and the blinds down so my children can’t find me and say mean things to me, because my husband doesn’t want my feelings hurt. They might hear me calling out to them, but most will assume it must be their dad talking, because they’ve been taught it’s wrong to speak with me, and can’t recognize my voice.
This Mother I’ve been told is mine is not someone I recognize. She is not someone I could emulate, or even get along with. So I’ll leave her be, safe in that lonely dark room, and go looking for a Divine Feminine that lives up to Her name. Because in this “Mother”, I find no truth.
I’ve gotten a bit scratched up in my search for the Woman in God.
I was ready to lance my wounds here–show you the noxious product of years spent contemplating this Mother and what her lonely room meant for my life now and my future after it ends–not caring who I might infect with the release of the things that have been causing me pain.
I was going to lace my words with bitterness and biting logic, as if that would convince those who treasure my Hell as their Heaven that they’re doing it wrong. Give them wounds to match mine, as if that could finally bring about Paradise.
That’s about when I went blank. Train of thought derailed, followed by cinematic explosion.
Instead I remembered kneeling, Mother on my mind, my hope mixed with anger for what I felt I was being denied. Eaten up with crawling, snatching guilt at having the audacity to think something was missing at all, let alone demand that this yawning hole be filled. And I did demand. Where is She? Don’t tell me You can be everything I need. You can’t ever understand me completely, because You are not a woman. Show me She is really there. As if she were a very rare elephant at a travelling circus, ready to be trotted out, for the right price.
I felt my betrayal immediately. She is not a thing to be shown around by Her keeper only when it suits His purpose, coddled and safe in her room until He calls for her. Amazing and new as this idea was to me, I couldn’t recognize that. I was too overwhelmed with guilt. Yet within the following flood of remorse, I did find relief. Abrupt, brief, and nearly unrecognizable, like someone calling out to me from a quickly moving car. I felt something different.
For a moment, hope came back.
But disbelief crowded in, followed by guilt for presuming that it might be Her. Because She is forbidden. Because I did not have the right to try to access Her. I’m supposed to leave Her where they say Father has put Her; swathed in bubble wrap and newspaper. A golden Ark, veiled and guarded to keep her from my unconsecrated touch.
My guilt and fear and bitterness laid over that sprout of hope like ice in winter, all without me realizing how the truth I’d been given was changing me. She is not a thing. Not to be coddled.
The sprout survived. It survived when I declared that I no longer believed in Her–that I couldn’t, not under these conditions, not hidden away and silent, unreachable, with no purpose but to serve as a lesson that sweet and soft-spoken motherhood is my only true calling, now and for eternity. It survived as I allowed cautious belief in female Deity to blossom on it’s own terms, and as many other things I’d held as certain shifted or faded or turned into something new.
She doesn’t belong to Him.
She doesn’t answer to Him.
She’s not hidden away, or drifting around in an outer dimension picking flowers.
She is not meant to be boxed in, isolated, coddled.
And neither am I.
I think the ice is thawing.
This, it turns out, is all I have to say.
This is the seventh post in our series on Heavenly Mother; click here to read the other amazing posts.
Thank you for these beautiful thoughts! The ice seems to be thawing for a lot of people, maybe for the church—and humanity—as a whole.
I believe She reveals Herself in a different way than does Her husband, so we can be frustrated when we look for Her in the places or using the methods that have worked to interact with Him.
The ice is thawing indeed!
A really beautiful metaphor. Thanks Heidi. As a male member of the church, it really pains me to see women in the church experience the kind of absence and longing for a divine female role model you describe.
The reason I am being so open about that pain is that I hope reading about it will help people understand better. For some, raw emotion convinces where logical explanations only elicit arguments.
I hope so too.
I love this. She’s not a show elephant. She’s not locked in a room safely protected from her children. If indeed we are a reflection of divine order then our relationship to Mother *needs* to be more robust! Men need to grow past their fear of inadequacy and allow women and their Divine Mother to have the relationship they need. And based on my own sons, the relationship they need too.
Thanks for sharing your feelings so beautifully, forcefully. We really need a broader vision of Heavenly Mother, or the Divine Feminine if we are to be healed. Only then can we know her and emulate her.
The question I have, is why has she-this never referred to Mother-been hidden away for SO LONG by the monotheistic religions? An appearance in the Old Testament? A nod in the New? In the Book of Mormon? D&C? Nope. Nothing. Only a little mention in an old (but not ancient) hymn and maybe a few asides in long forgotten conference talks. If this Goddess truly wanted to be heard and known, it would have happened before now. But instead, there’s been MILLENNIA of silence. Why? If there really is a vibrant, independent, spit-fire of a Goddess up there, wouldn’t she have made her presence known to the general populace–her supposed children–in some way, some how?
Actually, One school of thought believes there is plenty of evidence in the Old Testament that she was worshipped openly before. You’ll find Her name there listed as Asherah, the consort of Baal, worshipped by both Babylonians and Hebrews. A close study of the OT reveals that for a long time, Hebrew religion was virtually indistinguishable from the others around it, until later in their history when Asherah was reformed out of their worship. Here’s a good article on that subject: http://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V41N04_133.pdf
Here is an interesting one on Nephi’s vision and some possible connections it could show with Asherah worship, published by BYU: http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/jbms/?vol=9&num=2&id=223
And the worship of a female deity did not disappear with the advent of Christianity. For centuries, Europe’s need for feminine worship was filled by Mother Mary, who was given a place of prominence and prayed to in the Catholic church, and still is. Brigham Young believed she was one of God’s plural wives, though that was a part of his theory that Adam is God, which was discredited by church leaders after his death.
Also, since it is part of Mormonism that all religions have some truth, we can’t leave out the non-Christian religions that have worshipped Goddess figures for thousands of years. Why assume that all the connection with female deity they claimed were just made up, just because they lived in an culture that doesn’t see God the same way as Europeans do? We may learn European history in school, but most of the people in this world are not, meaning that most people’s worship for most of the earth’s history has actually included worship of a divine female figure. Completely male-dominated religion is a blip on the radar.
“…meaning that most people’s worship for most of the earth’s history has actually included worship of a divine female figure. Completely male-dominated religion is a blip on the radar.”
Very well said!
Jadie: I actually have a post coming up soon here at Rational Faiths that addresses this issue. I try and show how HM is mentioned in the Old Test. far more than most people recognize, and that the implication of her appearance there is that she may be known under other guises in the NT, BofM, and D&C.
“If this Goddess truly wanted to be heard and known, it would have happened before now. But instead, there’s been MILLENNIA of silence. Why?”
Personally, I think she has been speaking and not been silent at all. Some people have heard her voice and thought it was someone else, while others have heard and recognized her for who she was. There’s a long history in Christian theology of elaborating female images for the divine, a history that Heidi alludes to below.
Beautifully put. Thank you for your honesty and passion. And for your own experience of connection with divine feminine. It’s hard for me to choose a favorite passage from this post, because it is wonderful through-and-through. However, this is where I gasped and then felt a little like crying:
“She is not someone I could emulate, or even get along with. So I’ll leave her be, safe in that lonely dark room, and go looking for a Divine Feminine that lives up to Her name. Because in this “Mother”, I find no truth. . .” I think we are all hungry for this truth, for our Real Mother.
You have a clear and unique voice. I feel validated and inspired reading this.
And now I’m hearing a hymn in my mind. “The day dawn is breaking, the world is awaking. The clouds of night’s darkness are fleeing away. . .” My own experience with the Divine Mother often comes via music. I just now realized how often it happens. I even wrote about it recently and didn’t recognize how concrete this fact is for me. Well, how about that. This post brought me closer to Her still. Thanks again.
Heidi, someday you will again be with your Mother in Heaven.