A revolution is happening through Divine Feminine rituals! More and more faith communities are reclaiming the power of the Divine Feminine in sacred rituals.
Rituals move feminist theory and theology/thealogy from the head to the heart. Words and visual symbols in rituals shape our deepest beliefs and values, which drive our actions. Multicultural female divine images in our sacred rituals affirm the sacred value of females throughout the world who continue to suffer from violence, abuse, and discrimination. For feminism to transform our culture, we need Divine Feminine rituals in faith communities. In Women-Church: Theology and Practice, Rosemary Radford Ruether writes: “One needs communities of nurture to guide one through death to the old symbolic order of patriarchy to rebirth into a new community of being and living. One needs not only to engage in rational theoretical discourse about this journey; one also needs deep symbols and symbolic actions to guide and interpret the actual experience of the journey from sexism to liberated humanity” (p. 3).
As I was growing up in the Baptist tradition, hymns were my favorite part of our rituals. One of the hymns I loved singing was “He Lives,” increasing in volume along with the congregation as we came to the refrain which repeated over and over the words “He lives.” Not until many years later could I even imagine singing or saying, “She lives.” I had learned to worship a God who was named and imaged as male. But while studying in a conservative seminary, I was surprised to find Her. I discovered female names and images of Deity in scripture and in Christian history. As an ordained minister, my call has included writing, preaching, and teaching to persuade people that we need multicultural female divine names and images in rituals if we are to have social justice, peace, and equality. My call expanded to writing Divine Feminine rituals, including lyrics to familiar hymn tunes.
My discovery of Her continued as I found clergy and laypeople who are transforming their faith communities through rituals that include multicultural female divine images. My latest book, She Lives! Sophia Wisdom Works in the World, celebrates these people who are engaged in transformative ministry within the church and the wider culture. Their stories reveal the connection between the Divine Feminine in rituals and justice in human relationships, illustrating Sophia Wisdom’s works such as gender equality, racial equality, marriage equality, economic justice, care of creation, nonviolence, interfaith collaboration, expanding spiritual experience, and changing hierarchies to circles. Among those featured in She Lives! are Feminism and Religion contributors Monica A. Coleman, Angela M. Yarber, and Mary E. Hunt.
She Lives! comes from my location within the Christian tradition with the invitation to people in other religious traditions to write stories of transformation through Divine Feminine rituals. Thus I was delighted with this endorsement by Rabbi Rami Shapiro: “She Lives! is an important book chronicling a revolution in Christianity—the reclaiming of the Divine Feminine; a revolution that must be duplicated in other faiths as well. Read the book. Join the revolution.”
She Lives! includes prayers, hymns, litanies, and other resources for Divine Feminine rituals. Also, there is a section that provides information on feminist faith communities I have discovered. One of the hymns in the book is “O Holy Darkness, Loving Womb.” This hymn connects darkness to the Sacred Feminine, empowering us to end injustice and heal the wounds of Earth. The hymn contributes to racial justice by changing the traditional symbolism of darkness as evil or ominous to darkness as creative bounty and beauty, affirming the sacred value of people of color through these positive images. In this video, recording artist Shannon Kincaid sings “O Holy Darkness, Loving Womb,” with pictures from various artists, to the tune of “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”
Here are lyrics of several stanzas:
O Holy Darkness, loving Womb, who nurtures and creates,
sustain us through the longest night with dreams of open gates.
We move inside to mystery that in our center dwells,
where streams of richest beauty flow from sacred, living wells.
O come to us, Sophia; your image, black and fair,
stirs us to end injustice and the wounds of Earth repair.
The treasures of your darkness and riches of your grace
inspire us to fulfill our call, our sacredness embrace.
Words © Jann Aldredge-Clanton, from Inclusive Hymns for Liberating Christians (Eakin Press, 2006)
During this season of the year, whatever our religious tradition, we can’t escape the ritual of Christmas carols in shopping malls, grocery stores, parades, TV, radio. In the Christmas season of 1995, I began writing hymns. The multitude of masculine images in traditional carols pelted me like stones. I began to wonder how different the world would be if we sang “O come, let us adore Her.” So I wrote a carol that included Sophia (“Wisdom”) to the tune of “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” Later, I wrote a carol with the female divine image of Midwife (Psalm 22:9-10). In this video Larry E. Schultz, among those featured in She Lives!, conducts the choir of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, in singing “Midwife Divine Now Calls Us” to a familiar carol tune.
Stacy Boorn, who is also featured in She Lives! and who is pastor of Ebenezer/herchurch Lutheran in San Francisco, says that she doesn’t “see how the world is going to change until the religious institutions change because they are so much a part of who the world is.” This revolution is happening through the reclaiming of the Divine Feminine in rituals, illustrated in this video of Vocal Divine at herchurch (Lana Dalberg, Dionne Kohler, Alison Newvine, Kathleen Neville Fritz) singing “What Wondrous Thing” to a familiar carol tune.
Here are lyrics of the refrain:
Look, look, for She is here;
Her Wisdom words have long been near.
Now, now, behold Her grace,
Divinity in Her image.
Words © Jann Aldredge-Clanton, from Inclusive Hymns for Liberating Christians
Jann Aldredge-Clanton is a feminist theologian, author, minister, professor, and facilitator of workshops and conferences on expanding images of the Divine. Among her published books are She Lives! Sophia Wisdom Works in the World (Skylight Paths http://skylightpaths.com/; 800-962-4544); Seeking Wisdom: Inclusive Blessings and Prayers for Public Occasions; and Inclusive Hymns for Liberation, Peace, and Justice. She ministers in ecumenical and interfaith settings, and co-chairs the ecumenical, multicultural Equity for Women in the Church Community.