We have been meditating on a revolution in values that the return of the Divine Feminine represents.  Such archetypes as Mary and the Black Madonna carry this energy forward.  

“La Virgen Indígena.” The conquistadors’ missionary friars harshly suppressed Mexican indigenous traditions. In this banner, the Virgin of Guadalupe and her angels wear the Zapatista bandana. Photo by Lorena on Flickr.

Julian of Norwich talks of Jesus as Mother due to his emphasis on compassion.  What if the Europeans who set sail for the “New Worlds” one century after Julian had acted more motherly to the indigenous peoples they encountered?

How different history would have been had they arrived on foreign lands not with swords drawn but with compassionate hearts.

Values of Kinship, Relationship, Compassion, Caring are in stark contrast to values of control and power-over that patriarchy holds up.

My friend and colleague Andrew Harvey, who was born and raised in India, the birthplace of many religions and a land with a long history of honoring the Great Mother, did all of us a huge favor when he wrote a major work on The Return of the Mother in 1995. 

“She Who Hears the Cries of the World” set to Jennifer Berezen’s “She Carries Me” and voiced by Olympia Dukakis. Video by Unanimous.

The book is deeply ecumenical and chapters include teachings on the Great Mother from Ramakrsihna, Aurobindo, Sufis, the Buddha and the Tao.  The last two chapters are on “Mary Our Mother” and on “Christ the Mother.” 

Harvey tells us that Mary is far less interested in adoration than imitation. The Mother doesn’t just want to be loved; she wants that love to be made active in all things and in all moments so that the reign of her love can begin on earth.

He invokes the teaching of Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff about Mary as a “prophetic woman of liberation” in his book, The Maternal Face of God.  

Detail of “Virgin Seamstress: with the Virgen de Guadalupe being so ubiquitous, there is no real imagery of Latinas at the work that we do.” Image by Gozamos on Flickr.

Boff says Mary brings both “denunciation and proclamation, prophecy and liberation.” He recognizes that under the influence of conquest and colonialism, Mary has often been sentimentalized or forgotten.  “As a result, for centuries Christianity has rendered the liberating” message of the Magnificat “impotent.”   

But we can develop a prophetic image of Mary…as the strong, determined woman, the woman committed to the messianic liberation for the poor from the historical social injustice under which they suffer.*  Among the poor so suffering today is of course Gaia, our Mother Earth.  

To be continued.

*Andrew Harvey, The Return of the Mother, pp. 374, 377f.

See Matthew Fox, “Divine Feminine and the Mother of God,” in Fox, Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic—and Beyond, pp. 45-58, 102f.

See also Fox, Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth.”

Banner Image: Lavanderia Cultural Murals, Historic Pilsen Barrio, Chicago. Photo by Richie Diesterheft on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

Do you agree that imitation of Mary is more needed than adoration of the same?  And that she carries, especially in the “Magnificat,” a “liberating message” for Mother Earth and all who suffer from injustice today?

Recommended Reading

Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic–and Beyond

Julian of Norwich lived through the dreadful bubonic plague that killed close to 50% of Europeans. Being an anchoress, she ‘sheltered in place’ and developed a deep wisdom that she shared in her book, Showings, which was the first book in English by a woman. A theologian way ahead of her time, Julian develops a feminist understanding of God as mother at the heart of nature’s goodness. Fox shares her teachings in this powerful and timely and inspiring book.
“What an utterly magnificent book. The work of Julian of Norwich, lovingly supported by the genius of Matthew Fox, is a roadmap into the heart of the eco-spiritual truth that all life breathes together.”  –Caroline Myss
Now also available as an audiobook HERE.

Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth

Fox’s spirituality weds the healing and liberation found in North American Creation Spirituality and in South American Liberation Theology. Creation Spirituality challenges readers of every religious and political persuasion to unite in a new vision through which we learn to honor the earth and the people who inhabit it as the gift of a good and just Creator.
“A watershed theological work that offers a common ground for religious seekers and activists of all stripes.” — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.

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5 thoughts on “The Return of the Mother: Julian, Andrew Harvey, Leonardo Boff”

  1. Avatar

    What is real adoration without imitation? Even ‘worldly influencers’ are paid handsomely when others follow their lead and mimic styles, attitudes and purchasing preferences.

    Mary as intercessor, leads us into and is our direct path to relationship with Jesus. Mary by her true nature is quiet and humble, but most powerful born of human parents. Those of evil intent fear Mary most of all as she reigns supreme over them. How powerful are our petitions then, if they are directed to Mother Mary. We can only point others to Mary and pray that they approach her with reverence to her immaculate and merciful heart. — BB.

  2. Avatar

    My sense is that it’s not IMITATION of the Divine Mother that we are being called to, but rather CULTIVATION; from that which inherently already dwells naturally within; which when acknowledged and responded to expresses and manifests itself in many authentic, unique and diverse ways.

    I sense this archetypal, living spiritual essence and presence of the Divine Mother, as a Great Council of Grandmothers; whom invite us into a relationship with the values, virtues and power of the Sacred Feminine and the beauty of this, already seeded and sealed within. They collectively offer to midwife, in particularly at this season of evolution, all women; sharing their wisdom ways of cultivating and nurturing this living spiritual essence and presence of the Divine Mother, from within ourselves; that we may let this inherent light of love, the values, virtues and powers of this beauty emerge, unfolding and releasing its fragrance in our lives, reweaving the mantle of becoming whom we have always been.

    Sharon McErlane has written a four book series of messages from this Great Council of Grandmothers: 1-A Call To Power: The Grandmother’s Speak, 2-Our Love Is Our Power, 3-Casting The Net, 4-Return Of The Mother: Return To Love. I highly recommend women read what the Great Council of Grandmothers, the Divine Mother is giving voice to, for She is speaking to liberate the Sacred Feminine within all women, in many ways.

  3. Avatar

    Yes! Yes! Beautiful DM today on OUR LOVING DIVINE COSMIC MOTHER within, through, and among Us in Gaia and with-in All Our LIVING LOVING Evolving~Co-Creating Sacred multidimensional~multiverse Beautiful DIVERSE ONENESS COSMOS in the Sacred Process of the ETERNAL PRESENT MOMENT… COSMIC CHRIST CONSCIOUSNESS….

    Thank you DM team for sharing the enclosed beautiful video, “She Who Hears the Cries of the World”, from the YouTube Subscription Channel “Unanimous,” which seems to have other videos dedicated to Our Beautiful Divine Cosmic Mother.

  4. Avatar

    I was entranced last night at bedtime (I have 3 small sons) when listening to the first chapter of Peter Pan by JM Barrie…I haven’t read this book since I was a child. This book is a true spell caster. I realize Peter Pan is the Eternal Child, and the Eternal Child predates Jesus, and is ancient, as ancient as the Great Mother. I realize the Peter Pan story and the movie sequel of Hook, which my husband was so formed by as a boy, is the soul of the eternal child seeking to incarnate, and searching for a worthy mother. Christ, Cosmic Christ, is the union of the Eternal Child and the Great Mother in a blended form…and so Jesus, is the boy who grew up and became Mother of the world, and we follow in this path because it’s the path of Love. We all journey on the path of Love, to love, for the Beloved, although that journey is infinitely various, many words, infinite words, for one Truth.

    From chapter 2: ‘…(winking is the star language), but the little ones still wonder. They are not really friendly to Peter, who had a mischievous way of stealing up behind them and trying to blow them out; but they are so fond of fun that they were on his side to-night, and anxious to get the grown-ups out of the way. So as soon as the door of 27 closed on Mr. and Mrs. Darling there was a commotion in the firmament, and the smallest of all the stars in the Milky Way screamed out: “Now, Peter!”‘

  5. Avatar

    I was taught in my tradition to follow and imitate Jesus, as much as is humanly possible, and not so much to worship him.

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