The feminine face of God

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In the last hundred materialistic years I was fascinated to discover that there are 386 recorded instances of Mary appearing to people all over the world from Belgium to Japan, Venezuela  to Burundi and Rwanda. I had always supposed that the visions of Our Lady of Fatima, and at Medjugorje in Yugoslavia were unique one-off events. They are not.

Our Lady of Zeitoun appeared regularly over a church at Zeitoun, a suburb of Cairo for several years between 1968 to 1971, where she blessed the people. Photos of the figure of light with a halo, hovering above the Coptic church of St Demiano appeared in all the Cairo newspapers. Hundreds of thousands flocked to see her, Christians, Jews, and Muslims, even the President Nasser. And there have been more reports of her appearing in Cairo just recently.

But mostly Mary seems to appear privately to women, and children. The most famous, of course, in the 20th century was Our Lady of Fatima, who appeared on the same day for six months in 1916 to three Portuguese children, aged ten, nine and eight, while they were tending goats. After the third month of their visions, when crowds began to follow them the local mayor arrested the children, as he thought the events were so disruptive.

He put them in jail among other prisoners, and threatened to boil the children in oil ( charming! ) if they didn’t tell him the secrets Mary had imparted to them. ( the secrets seem to have been coloured by the children’s perceptions of hell and Catholic teachings) They refused, though the eldest offered to ask Mary if she could tell him. The other prisoners testified that the children consoled them and recited the rosary with them.  Back home, the youngest brother and sister told their parents that Mary had told them they would die soon and meet her in heaven, but their cousin Lucia, the eldest, would live long.

They did die, within a couple of years, of Spanish flu, and Lucia continued to have visions until she died as a very old lady in a convent. The six children who saw Mary at Medjugorje in 1981 have also continued to see her for over thirty years, on the same day of the month. This was her latest message to Mirjana Soldo on 25 November this year:

 “Dear children! Today I call all of you to prayer. Open the doors of your heart profoundly to prayer, little children, to prayer with the heart; and then the Most High will be able to act upon your freedom and conversion will begin. Your faith will become firm so that you will be able to say with all your heart: ‘My God, my all.’ You will comprehend, little children, that here on earth everything is passing. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

The internet being what it is, there are films of Mirjana Soldo receiving her visions, not just in Yugoslavia, but in Austria, Italy and elsewhere. Like the children of Fatima, these children – now adults – were also considered to be ‘disruptive influences’ by the civil authorities

Many phenomena were reported at Medjugorje during the appearances of the Queen of Peace as she is known, such as the sun spinning, dancing in the sky, turning colours, or being surrounded by objects such as hearts or crosses. Onlookers have reported that they have been able to look at the sun during those times without any damage to their eyes; these events are all similar to phenomena seen during the visions at Fatima in 1916. There too, newspaper reports described the sun dancing and spinning in the sky and changing colours. Reputable witnesses saw the solar phenomena forty miles away, while others, including believers, saw nothing.

 Among Mary’s many names are Queen of Heaven, Star of the Sea, The Blessed Virgin. In other places and other times the feminine principle or Divine Mother has been known by many other names… She’s been called Ameratsu and Cannon in Japan,  Kuan Yin in China, Tara in Tibet,  Shakti in India,  Akua’ba in Africa,  Isis in Egypt,  Ishtar and Astarte in the Middle East, Hera and Juno in Greece and Rome,  Freya in Scandinavia,  Spider Woman and Ixchel the Weaver in North America. 

The Divine Mother has a long history in the planet’s consciousness. Archaeology suggests that from approximately 40,000 BC to approximately 5,000 BC the Goddess was worshipped above all, and nearly all the figurines found from this period seem to be female goddesses.

There are other accounts of the feminine principle appearing when called upon. John Blofeld, mystic, scholar, and expert on Asian religions tells the story of a friend in China during the Second World War. He was half Chinese, and had been brought up a Christian. In danger, hungry, lost on a mountain in terrible weather, wondering if he’d survive the night, he called on his patron saint,  St Bernadette, “begging that sweet child to appear and lead me to a place of safety”

And then he saw her standing on a flat rock, her blue robe hardly moving in the fierce wind. She was smiling and around her was a nimbus of light. He felt something unfamiliar in her appearance, and then he realised she was a Chinese Bernadette. ‘Her high-swept hair, the jewelled ornaments clasped about her throat, the white silk trousers peeping through a blue robe slit to the thigh, were those of a noble Chinese maiden many centuries ago.’

She spoke to him in Mandarin and surprised him with her childish voice, much younger than Bernadette. “ Come, Elder Brother”, and she led him to a shallow cave, where he lay down and fell deeply asleep in the bitter cold and on hard rocks, unconscious of any discomfort. For more than a year he thought it was Bernadette who’d rescued him, until he saw by chance a portrait of Kuan Yin with her two attendants. In Ling Nu, the youngest, he recognised the lady who had saved his life. After deep thought, he decided that Kuan Yin had too much delicacy to appear to someone calling on a foreign goddess, so she sent Lung Nu who could be taken for a child saint.

Often in her appearances to children, the lady doesn’t give her name. …” beautiful lady, beautiful lady”, the three small Italian children murmured on their knees at Tre Fontane in April 1947.   St Bernadette, the fourteen year-old un-educated daughter of a miller, only ever referred to her as ‘ That’, or ‘the small young lady” . The children at Medjugorje called her ‘Lady.’

She seems to favour quiet spots far from towns and villages, by streams and grottos and woods, and her visitations come unbidden. The Catholic church is never very happy about Mary’s appearances – or you could say is suspicious – since it considers the last word to have been spoken on the faith after the death of the last apostle. So they don’t want her interfering! Reports of visions of the Lady are rarely greeted with any enthusiasm by church authorities and they have very strict criteria about who they believe.

Out of the 386 visions/ appearances/ apparitions – depending on who is describing the visitations – only eight have been officially approved by the Catholic church. I wonder how many private and unrecorded visions – not just of Mary, but of other figures of spiritual significance – there are among people who have never spoken of them. I’ve heard of several.

Graham Green, the novelist, writing of her, said: ‘There is a common feature in all her appearances, the appeal for prayer and yet more prayer. Her message is as simple as that, and it may seem unimportant unless we have some realisation of the terrible force of prayer, the mysterious untapped power able to move mountains’.

 

Food for threadbare gourmets

Soup is the answer when I can think of nothing else, and this quick warming tomato soup is a favourite. Gently fry an onion, five cloves of garlic, a small piece of chopped ginger, and a good pinch of coriander in a saucepan until soft. Add a teasp of smoked paprika, two tins of  chopped tomatoes in puree and one tin of whole tomatoes. While it simmers, leave a small bunch of herbs like thyme and marjoram tied together in the mix.

Simmer for ten minutes, remove the herbs and blend until smooth. Re-heat, season with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and stir in some cream… this amount serves six. Sprinkle chopped parsley on top, and freshly cooked croutons made from sour dough bread and fried in olive oil are good too.

 

Food for thought

 My daughter sent me this prose poem… it’s by that talented poet Anon. We’ve had seventeen dogs – three at a time, mostly rescued…

It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them, and every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are.

 

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49 Comments

Filed under animals/pets, consciousness, cookery/recipes, food, great days, history, life/style, philosophy, spiritual, The Sound of Water, Thoughts on writing and life, Uncategorized

49 responses to “The feminine face of God

  1. Having been brought up a strict catholic,(I left the church when my mother died miserably at a young age) it surprises me not at all that members of that establishment are threatened by our good lady.. poor wee fellas, they have no idea of the powers women hold in their prayerful voices. Or maybe they do. c

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    • I think you’ve hit the nail on the head.. I think they do feel threatened… I’ve never forgotten reading Pope John’s Diary of a Soul, and him beating himself up because he’d forgotten to keep reminding himself that women were evil when he looked at a woman !!!!

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  2. Valerie, what an inspiring post filled with boundless knowledge. Thank you for sharing and filling my heart with even more reasons to listen to the whispering voices of prayer.

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  3. My dear friend! Your words resonated within my being for I believe that we need to recognize and celebrate the feminine within our spiritual journey. Thank you for your thoughtful discussion; the historical evidence gives meaning and perspective to our present reality.

    “For prayer is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God.”
    Saint Teresa of Avila

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  4. Behind the Story

    It’s hard to know what to think about miracles and appearances. And yet, life is more mysterious than we usually realize.
    Why, I wonder, are these appearances usually of women. Our Lady of Guadalupe is another favorite.

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  5. Yes I too would be happy to be as generous and loving as a dog… but I wouldn’t want a dog’;s life – unless they were one of mine, or Celi’s or LInda’s… loved to bits….!!!! ( and yours?)

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  6. But we love Mama Mary and when we’re praying the rosary, it’s a clear affirmation that she’s the one closest to God and hears our prayers. By the way, I am a Catholic and the Philippines love Mama Mary.

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  7. I love the top photograph and also the recipe, and the final Anon quote. Have you heard of Mary Oliver’s recently published Don Songs?

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    • Thank you – so glad you liked the photo, I love it when it gets noticed ! and I hope you enjoy the recipe… yes, I loved that gentle quote! I will have to investigate Mary Oliver… her name seems familiar…

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  8. Interesting post. The really old religions (really old) were female-centered since it’s the woman who gives life. Somewhere the dudes got it all screwed up!

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  9. Fascinating stories and encounters – the vision of the altruistic, nurturing, feminine presence of Mary seems always to inspire hope.

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  10. IF, just if, we could have have the hearts of dogs what a wonderful world this would be!

    Linda
    http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com
    ¸.•*¨*•♪♫♫♪Merry Christmas ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥
    ˜”*°•.˜”*°•.˜”*°•.★★.•°*”˜.•°*”˜.•°*”˜”

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  11. What a beautiful post, so full of understanding and compassion. I have a little Kwan Yin and have often over the years invoked her gentle help.

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    • Dear Juliet, I loved thus message from you, and really value your lovely words. ( I am so enjoying your beautifully written book, but will write about that later) I’m glad you’re a lover of Kuan Yin too… it’s interesitng how everyone feels her energy as being so gentle…

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  12. How deep and wonderful written… it is so important that we all celebrate the feminine… especially the feminine energy in ourself… great recipe and poem from your daughter… made me laugh… thank you valerie, have a great weekend…

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    • Thank you so much Barbara. so glad you enjoyed it.. and the poem from my daughter! the sacred is the profane and the profane the sacred – no difference ! Hope you have a good weekend too… though I’m not sure how the time lag works !!!

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  13. Your interesting post reminded me of the time when I read The Myth of The Goddess; Evolution of an Image by Anne Baring and Jules Cashford. I bet you have read that book too.
    About the dog-heart quote; by now I have a guinea-pig heart.

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    • Ah Paula, I laughed at the thought of your lovely guinea- pig heart! I loved my grandson’s cuddly little ‘pigs’ as he called them ! No, I haven’t read that book you mention, it sounds interesting, and I must look out for it… love Valerie

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  14. Soup is our standby too. I love your choice of poem and am intrigued by your stories today under that lovely title, The feminine face of God. 🙂

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    • Good to hear from you Sally… that lovely title comes from a book of the same name, written by Sheryl Ruth Anderson and Patricia Hopkins. It’s a lovely book about women who have found their own spiritual path…

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  15. Dear Valerie,

    Above all, your title intrigues me. The Feminine Face of God. While I have a lot of questions of my own concerning the visions, I do know with my nominal knowledge of Hebrew that in Torah the Holy Spirit is referred to in the feminine. So I do indeed believe God has a feminine side.
    Your writing always inspires me. Thank you.

    Shalom and Kia Ora,

    Rochelle

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    • Thank you so much for your comment Rochelle…I had wondered about the Hebraic beliefs… is what you’re referring to the same as the word Shekinah?
      I’m touched that you should think my writing inspires you.. but I think we all inspire each other, good friend… warm wishes, Valerie

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      • The Holy Spirit is Ruakh Ha Kodesh in Hebrew which has a masculine and feminine form for verbs. In Genesis when the H.S. moves over the face of the waters the verb is feminine. I believe this happens many more times in scripture. Now I’m intrigued and will have to go back and study to back myself up.

        The Shekhinah, is the Glory of God. Something a little different. I’m pleased to know that I inspire you in any way. 😉

        Shalom and Kia Ora,

        Rochelle

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      • Thank you for this Rochelle… it ‘s fascinating…

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  16. Certainly a gift this post of yours. Thank you for the information, and the recipe. Both are warming!

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  17. Fear of the feminine seems to be common to all religions, in some way or another. It’s all upsidedown… 🙂 By the way, I’ve just now cooked your delicious tomato soup – using a bag of fresh tomatoes and basil instead of coriander (since I had none). What a divine recipe! xo

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  18. Oh Alarna, I should think your recipe is delicious… you can’t go wrong with fresh tomatoes and basil… my inferior version of tinned was for those emergencies when you have no ideas and no food in the larder either !!!

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  19. There is a wealth of wonderful information in your post, thank you Valerie.

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  20. Filled with information and for some reason a soothing feeling just washed over me as I read further. Thank you, dear Valerie – for the gifts you give. … Love, Rachna

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  21. Excellent post – informative, prayerful, complete – thank you!

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  22. I love this, Valerie! Mary is always appearing to the poor – that’s who she likes…and if Jesus returns, he’ll be hanging out on a street corner with some drug-addicted prostitutes. He’ll probably be locked up in prison before he can say “I’m back”.
    I decided about four years ago to stop bothering about where to classify myself. I just say to whomever’s in charge ” Who’s at the bottom? Put me with them. I’m with them.” And that’s the only way I can negotiate the world anymore.
    Thank-you for this, dear friend.

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    • Dear Claire,
      Thank you, I’m so glad you understood about Mary… it tenderises the world knowing that these things happen. doesn’t it.
      Why do you have to classify yourself – and what for????
      Happy Hew Year, dear friend, when I’m over the NZ holiday chaos of this time of year I’ll be writing properly XXX

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