One man who celebrated the Divine Feminine and Sophia is the late Catholic monk Thomas Merton.  

Thomas Merton. Photo by Sibylle Akers / Merton Legacy Trust

Merton, like Julian of Norwich whom he praised prodigiously, developed the theme of the “Motherhood of God.”  He wrote: God is at once Father and Mother…. As Mother His shining is diffused, embracing all His creatures with merciful tenderness and light. The Diffuse Shining of God is Hagia Sophia [Holy Wisdom]. We call her His ‘glory.’ In Sophia His power is experienced only as mercy and as love. 

Elaborating on the Divine Feminine, Merton went on to suggest a Quaternity rather than just a Trinity in the Godhead: Perhaps in a certain very primitive aspect Sophia [Sophia is Wisdom and is feminine] is the unknown, the dark, the nameless Ousia. Perhaps she is even the Divine Nature, One in Father, Son and Holy Ghost. And perhaps she is in infinite light unmanifest, not even waiting to be known as Light. This I do not know. Out of the silence Light is spoken. . . . In the Nameless Beginning, without beginning, was the Light. We have not seen this Beginning. I do not know where she is, in this Beginning. I do not speak of her as a Beginning, but as a manifestation. 

As a monk, Merton spent hours every day and night feeding that intuitive side through prayer and chanting the wisdom scriptures such as the psalms and in meditation and contemplation and quiet, both alone and in communal ritual and ceremony.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, A Way to God: Thomas Merton’s Creation Spirituality Journey, pp. 158f.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: Thomas Merton with camera. Photographer unknown. From

Queries for Contemplation

Do you experience Wisdom, Hagia Sophia, as a manifestation?  What is that like? What follows from that?

Recommended Reading

A Way to God: Thomas Merton’s Creation Spirituality Journey

In A Way to God, Fox explores Merton’s pioneering work in interfaith, his essential teachings on mixing contemplation and action, and how the vision of Meister Eckhart profoundly influenced Merton in what Fox calls his Creation Spirituality journey.
“This wise and marvelous book will profoundly inspire all those who love Merton and want to know him more deeply.” — Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism

Responses are welcomed. To add your comment, please click HERE or scroll to the bottom of the page.

Share this meditation


Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox is made possible through the generosity of donors. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation

Search Meditations





Receive our daily meditations

12 thoughts on “Thomas Merton on the Divine Feminine”

  1. Avatar

    Personally, I experience Lady Wisdom, the Holy Spirit of the Divine Feminine, first and foremost through engaging with Her essence and presence in the intimacey of a personal relationship of friendship and companionship and the spiritual reality of this. This unfolds in various ways, such as contemplation and meditation, either on sacred spiritual writings, in nature, through art, or sound. Her language is often spoken in a symbolic, metaphoric and aligorical way, in which I receive intuitive insights into the wisdom that She shares of Herself with me.

    The manifestation of this wisdom unfolds and blossoms as I learn to apply what She has revealed and made known to me, to my daily life. Until I learn to walk the talk of what She has shared with me, this wisdom offered remains only knowledge. Truly Her wisdom ways and the manifestation of this, is a balance of contemplation and action. Within this, one learns the unity of the feminine and the masculine, working in harmony to manifest this wisdom, as lived experience.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, Thank you for your comment and sharing your experience with us. You speak of the balance of contemplation and action, the feminine and the masculine, and also going beyond mere knowledge to Lady Wisdom. That too is where I want to be!

  2. Avatar

    It is interesting that one of the most successful, and apparently oppressive to employees, businesses is named after powerful women–Amazon. I don’t know the original reasons for the name, but it’s ironic that strong women are tops in this capitalistic society. Maybe it’s like the women who ended up being included in Matthew’s list of ancestors of Jesus, “accidental”?

    1. Avatar

      Matthew’s reasons for including the 4 women in his genealogy of Jesus is discussed in historical/critical detail in Jane Schaberg’s acclaimed [by some] book THE ILLEGITIMACY OF JESUS.

  3. Avatar

    Synchronistically , God’s Spirit is very active today in Her-His Perennial Message for us through past and present saints and mystics. Fr. Richard Rohr in his Daily Meditation( today,
    “Contemplation Creates Compassion”, quotes Matthew Fox extensively from his book – “A Spiritually Named Compassion: Uniting Mystical Awareness with Social Justice”. Of course Fr. Thomas Merton has also passed Sophia’s message of Divine Love and Action in our daily lives….

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Damian, Thomas Merton is definitely in the Creation Spirituality tradition–the Zen Master, Suzuki told Merton to look into Meister Eckhart, and Merton told Matthew to go to Paris to work on a Ph. D. in Spirituality. You should read his book, A WAY TO GOD: THOMAS MERTON’S CREATION SPIRITUALITY JOURNEY. Thanks for your comment!

  4. Avatar

    The early Church Fathers radically misinterpreted the Garden of Eden story, as the feminine Holy Spirit because the “original sin” was actually Adam’s failure to love his pleison, or “neighbor” in Greek, which also refers to “spouse.” Think about it, who was man’s original neighbor? According to the Bible, God never spoke to Eve before her encounter with the “talking serpent Satan,” and what he told Adam about the fruit was just what they could and couldn’t eat….

    And this was Adam’s original sin. His “failure to communicate” with Eve as a help meet, or to love her as Christ admonished us, as “his neighbor,” or himself–as Elohim created us in the beginning, in their image, “male and female.” And this “failure to communicate” and respect each other as God’s own creations is the original sin, and it continues to be committed by men–and women in man’s own image of himself–all over the world today.

    And the Church sanctified this evil by misinterpreting the nature of the Holy Spirit from the beginning, when the early church fathers changed the gender of the Holy Spirit from feminine to neuter in Greek, and then neuter to masculine in Latin, which denied the meanings in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Old Syriac, and countervailed God’s own description in Genesis.

    Yes. “Pneuma” is neuter in Greek, but that term inappropriately translated Christ’s references to the Spirit in his native language of spoken Aramaic. Why? Because it depersonalized the Spirit, and applied an objectified term to a subjective subject.

    “Pneuma” has no personhood in Greek because it refers to a material form, and not a spiritual being. And the early Church fathers chose that word, so they could justify changing the gender of the Holy Spirit since they couldn’t accept Christ’s words in John that he had to go, so the Father could send the Holy Spirit, and She would tell the world the truth about Him.

    The correct word that should have used to translate “ruach,” or ruacha,” in reference to the Holy Spirit in the Greek Septugaint Bible is “Psyche.” And that word in Greek, is feminine.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Eiline, I’m sorry but I had to edit your comment because of its length. I hope I still got your main points in. I think it is good that you have pointed out that it was Adam’s responsibility to deal with God’s command to not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and thus the Church has some apologizing to do when it comes to Eve and women in general. Also, your linguistic work on the Holy Spirit looks right to me. And the problem with men that you speak of, is at least is being addressed for once in Matthew’s book, THE HIDDEN SPIRITUALITY OF MEN…

Leave a Comment

To help moderate the volume of responses, the Comment field is limited to 1500 characters (roughly 300 words), with one comment per person per day.

Please keep your comments focused on the topic of the day's Meditation.

As always, we look forward to your comments!!
The Daily Meditation Team

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join us in meditation that supports your compassionate action

Receive Matthew Fox's Daily Meditation by subscribing below: