In yesterday’s DM we considered how Advent, night and repose can be seen as feminine according to Thomas Merton. 

A beautiful introduction to the Black Madonna and why people adore her. By Joan Brooks Baker on YouTube.

The tradition of God as Mother and Jesus as Mother, a tradition that Julian of Norwich enriches so wonderfully is called to mind in this season of Advent.  So too is the archetype of the Black Madonna.  We will consider these stories soon.

But let us pause to consider the naming of the Divine as the Godhead.  This dimension to divinity does not get the attention it deserves and Advent time is a good season to pay it more attention.  The Godhead  is also feminine and in many ways, darkness and repose accompany the Godhead in a special way.

But often Westerners are very oblivious and unknowing about the Godhead as distinct from God.  This is because the Godhead is feminine and patriarchy rules our languages and our religions and our philosophies and very often our seminaries, sad to say.  So let us explore the Godhead more deeply.

God and Godhead are as different as Heaven and Earth. Photo by Daniel Olah on Unsplash

Meister Eckhart has written most about the Godhead and contrasts it to God in the following ways:

Meister Eckhart distinguishes “God” from “Godhead” and says they are as different and far apart as the earth from the heavens. In Eckhart’s two languages, God is masculine (“Gott” in German; “Deus” in Latin) and Godhead is feminine (“Gottheit” in German and “Deitas” in Latin).

God is about action—Creator, Liberator, Redeemer, History and the rest; but the Godhead is about Mystery more than history; about Being more than doing; about Silence more than action.

The Godhead is utterly ineffable and there is no talking, no words in the Godhead.  “Everything within the Godhead is unity, and we cannot speak about it.”  But when we leave the Godhead on being born, when we “flow out from there,” all the creatures of the world stand up and shout: “God!” 

God! Photo by Isaac Quesada on Unsplash

We dwell first in the Godhead and we return to the Godhead when we die. In between, at birth, we enter the world of God and creation, history, liberation and redemption.

The image I get of divinity as Godhead is a great big Cosmic Mama in whose lap all of creation rests.  We are invited to rest in her lap, to find repose there. And love. And joy.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Naming the Unnameable: 89 Wonderful and Useful Names for God….Including the Unnameable God, # 51.

And from Matthew Fox, Passion For Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart, pp. 77-82.

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

Banner image: Silent night, holy night. Photo by Vadim Babenko on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

Have you experienced the Godhead as well as God?  What difference does that make?  What different might it make to our culture?

Recommended Reading

Naming the Unnameable: 89 Wonderful and Useful Names for God …Including the Unnameable God

Too often, notions of God have been used as a means to control and to promote a narrow worldview. In Naming the Unnameable, renowned theologian and author Matthew Fox ignites our imaginations by offering a colorful range of Divine Names gathered from scientists and poets and mystics past and present, inviting us to always begin where true spirituality begins: from experience.
“This book is timely, important and admirably brief; it is also open ended—there are always more names to come, and none can exhaust God’s nature.” -Rupert Sheldrake, PhD, author of Science Set Free and The Presence of the Past

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20 thoughts on “Advent and the Coming of the Godhead”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Today you as us to pause to consider the naming of the Divine as the Godhead. This dimension to divinity does not get the attention it deserves and Advent time is a good season to pay it more attention. The Godhead is also feminine and in many ways, darkness and repose accompany the Godhead in a special way. However, most are oblivious to the fact that Godhead is distinct from God. This is because the Godhead is feminine and patriarchy rules our languages, our religions, our philosophies, and very often our seminaries. Then you show us how this is true from a linguistic perspective–for you say, “Meister Eckhart distinguishes ‘God’ from ‘Godhead’ and says they are as different and far apart as the earth from the heavens.” In Eckhart’s two languages, God is masculine (“Gott” in German; “Deus” in Latin) and Godhead is feminine (“Gottheit” in German and “Deitas” in Latin). We dwelled in the Godhead before we were born, and then given birth in this world to experience creation, and then we return to the Godhead from whence we have come. When it comes to today’s meditation all should read the section on the “Unnameable God” in your book: Naming the Unnameable: 89 Wonderful and Useful Names for God …Including the Unnameable God. Its a great and inspiring read !!!

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    There appears to be an ‘over propensity’ or over-weighting of us to imitate God as warrior, hunter and redeemer versus those who desire to reside within the God-head, within the Mystery. Why? Many are encouraged always to take ‘visible’ action or nothing gets done or accomplished, they are told. Many miracles occur sight unseen do they not? Do we know whose prayers, intentions, benevolence, meditations or direct will caused those things to happen? A Saint to be a saint needs to have documented miracles after death – where is the physicality in that?

    We are encouraged to be ‘activists’ in order to make something happen and happen and happen as if physical movements could ever surpass ‘spiritual movements’. I don’t come from the understanding that physical ‘trumps’ spiritual effort and effects in aggregate. Yes, there is a time and place for the physical, but not at the expense of imbalancing ourselves and neglecting the power and refreshment of residing in the God-head. — BB.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Bill, Balance is what it is all about, that’s why Matthew says we are to be “mystic-prophets”–because there is a time for mysticism and a time for prophetic engagement. And another way of putting this is we are to be “contemplative-activists.”

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    Everything that Mathew, Eckhart and the enclosed video clip within today’s DM are speaking of as the Godhead… is, dare I say… Goddess. Why not just use this word? If the Christian Church had used this word Goddess instead of Godhead, perhaps the atrocities of patriarchal and heirarchal religion would cease to exist.

    Isn’t this reality of the God/Goddess, the true message that Jeshua AND Mary Magdalene… together… brought forth to awaken within the consciousness of humanity… so that the Original Blessing of this inherent goodness and the beauty of this sacred union of wholeness, oneness and holiness would begin to unfold, evolve and emerge within the hearts, minds and souls of all?

    I’m not the only one making these awakening connections, as many other mystics, prophets, poets and artists, throughout the history of Christianity have creatively intuited, experienced and shared this reality of truth… often paying the price for doing so.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, Today you ask: “Everything that Mathew, Eckhart and the enclosed video clip within today’s DM are speaking of as the Godhead… is, dare I say… Goddess. Why not just use this word?” I think the answer to your question is that they did not use the word Goddess for two reasons: First because they were patriarchal when they came up with the term Godhead and therefore would not have even considered a Feminine God, and secondly in the times they were living in they were competing with goddesses–just look at chapter 19 of the book of Acts and you’ll see this. And the temple of Diana or Artemis was still around nearly 300 years after Christianity was already established–it was destroyed by the Goths around 270 CE. Oh, and Artemis was just one of many goddesses at the time…

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    Beautiful and profound meditation Matthew on the Godhead and God, thank you! Another mystic, besides Meister Eckhart, who wrote about their difference is Bernadette Roberts.
    This ‘clarifies’ for me a deeper understanding of the mystery of the Godhead~Divine Mother/Feminine~Source~Wisdom~Being~Peace~Divine Love~Oneness… and God~Father Creator~Ongoing Creation-Evolution~Becoming~Diverse Beautiful Life~Compassion…
    Mother Godhead and Father God — Both Loving Eternal Intimate and Beautiful Mysteries in our hearts and among us within All our multiverse Cosmos….

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      Spirit of Divine Love and Beloved Cosmic Christ within both the Mother Godhead and Father God are included in the Mystery of Divine Oneness in my developing understanding of the Sacred Intrarelational Family of the Quaternity….

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    (Experiencing the Godhead)

    Deep within the confines of my mind,
    The window with the Sun against my side,
    I glanced a piece of nothing there,
    And knew it was my pride.

    Where does one go, where is one?
    Then asking “is it me?”
    I cried ten thousand thousand tears,
    I’d touched this Unity.

    The heartache and the reverence
    The Godhead standing near,
    I knew there was no settlement,
    The cost was much too dear.

    How does one lose this evil,
    This bitter sense of shame?
    Where did I part from Oneness,
    Or is it all the same?


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    When I read “Godhead is feminine… ‘Deitas’ in Latin”, I immediately thought of my favorite Gregorian chant, “Adoro te devote, latens Deitas”. I never realized that that first line named the Godhead as feminine. I will now sing that chant to the Divine Mother, that dark, feminine abyss from which all creativity arises. Thank you.

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    Is Godhead the equivalent of Trinity? Godhead = mystery and unity. Trinity = mystery and unity. Or are there subtle differences. Thanks. I find the DM very encouraging and enlightening.

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    Thanks, Matthew, and all who commented so beautifully. I would add that the discussion of God’s “genders” should be understood as human attempts to concretize the idea of “deitas,” the theologian’s Latin word for the quality of the ultimate mystery (God). Revelation in nature comprehends both (all) genders. Abrahamic Scriptures imagine to a greater degree the active “male” qualities of God. So, the mysterious “female” qualities of God are less prominent, though still present. Anyone who has observed a girl, woman, mother and grandmother knows not just how wise but also how active they are. I think as a Christian and recall Jesus’s wonderful deeds and urgings to do good to others and the frequency with which Jesus left the disciples for a separate place to pray. As Jesus said that he is the way, truth and life, I believe my way, truth and life are inspired and blessed by his eternal presence as Christ.

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    Thanks Matthew for clarifying the difference between “God” (the masculine) and “Godhead”
    (the feminine) aspects of the Divine according to Meister Eckhart. Yesterday’s quote from
    Thomas Merton left me continuing to question why Sophia is perceived as an aspect of god
    and not the goddess herself. Why are Christians still so afraid to use this word? I believe
    inclusive language to describe the Divine, the Indwelling, the Great Mystery, is one of the
    greatest challenges facing the coming reformation of contemporary Christianity. Below is
    Merton’s quote:

    Hagia Sofia is the dark, nameless Ousia [being] of the Father, the Son and the Holy
    Ghost, the incomprehensible, ‘primordial’ darkness which is infinite light….Hence Sophia is
    the feminine, dark yielding, tender part of the power, justice, creative dynamism of the Father.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Marijo, I agree with the point that you raise and was also raised by Jeanette. You write, “Yesterday’s quote from Thomas Merton left me continuing to question why Sophia is perceived as an aspect of god and not the goddess herself. Why are Christians still so afraid to use this word?” Please read the response I wrote for Jeanette in which I explain why this is the case. Also, with the way Mary is exalted in the Catholic Church as the “Mother of God,” the “Queen of Heaven”–some have even thought that she is a goddess-figure and should even be made a quaternity to replace the Trinity. Instead of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit it would be the Father, the Mother, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I would say that the Church would evolve this way, but the fact of the matter is that the Church is into being UNCHANGING. Evidence of this is in that the one big change in the Church, which was Vatican II, is still not accepted by many in the Church…

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    God and Godhead are words for the stages of the (official) mystical experience, which is Neoplatonism in its many forms. Gender is completely ABSENT within the two transcendent/nondualistic, innermost phases of the experience. Gender is only an artistic expression to convey a sense, from “the outside” (dualistic/intellectual) or after the experience, of the content and “feel” of the revelation within the context of its unfolding.
    What difference does it make to have had this experience?
    I see this mysticism, with subtle nuances, expressed in the theology and spirituality of many religions. It is the radiant bridge that unites them, even if they each interpret the revelation somewhat differently.
    I see the implications of the revelation in the spirituality and morality demanded by it, as exemplified by Jesus.
    I see this mysticism from the point of view as a female “mystic” (i.e. someone who had the mystical experience), in a tradition of male-dominated mysticism where women mystics have been silenced, trivialized, condescended to, and man-owned.
    I see the mystical experience as a gift from God/the Holy Spirit, an undeserved blessing and continual source of unfolding intuitive lessons.
    I see this type of mysticism also as an eternal gift to humankind, always offering wisdom and beckoning people to deeper spirituality and thought, and inspiring artworks of intuitive, creative genius.
    I see it as the revelation of the One.

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    I am not of the RC tradition of the veneration of Mary/Madonna. Years ago, I was part of a women’s group in church led by a retired woman minister, and we learned that women develop spiritually in a different way from men. I have not seen this acknowledged anywhere else. We looked at Proverbs 8: 22-31 where Sophia is the firstborn and a co-creator (my interpretation of 30) with God, and is God’s delight. I have always been struck by the parallel with John 1: 1-5, except there is no delight or joy expressed there. Sophia to me is Christa.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Sue, You write today; “We looked at Proverbs 8: 22-31 where Sophia is the firstborn and a co-creator (my interpretation of 30) with God, and is God’s delight…. Sophia to me is Christa.” There is a book I would recommend, it was written by a Methodist named, Susan Cole, and it is titled, WISDOM’S FEAST: SOPHIA IN STUDY AND CELEBRATION.

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    Brigid Cannon, OP

    I appreciate everything each person has written and the pieces of truth we share.
    It is always a blessing for me in our motto as Dominicans “to contemplate and then share the fruits of our contemplation.” Each of you have done this very well. Our world today needs Prophetic Mystics who have contemplated the truth and only then share as did Dr. Martin Luther King in “I Have a Dream.” He prayed, lived, proclaimed and worked for that dream till the day he died as did Jesus and many other unknown saints have done through the years.
    May we all be Prophetic Mystics is a prayer I pray! Thank you!

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    When we travel through the frequencies of our harmonic selves we explore from fear to acceptance. From acceptance to unconditional love as well as joy and bliss. Each of these frequencies that we explore and after gaining knowledge become in understanding help us alter the self, and along with it the world within and outside the self.

    When we understand the harmonic universe of joy and bliss and travel beyond this experience the godhead completes as we harmonize our own experienced and understood harmonic, frequency, universes inside and outside the self.

    Our ancient drawings show this in the “halo” of Jesus amongst men. The godhead is the experience reached when the form of “all matter”. Is left behind and the form of “ all not matter” is being experienced. This is what on earth is called the mother, as here is experienced what is conceived. As the mother conceives the child.

    The name mother is used to explain only as this dimension is part of creation of our physical dimensions, within harmonic universes.

    The godhead its self merely shows we begin to understand a tiny bit of what being a child of the universe really means.

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