I Sing Asherah Exalted! by Janet Maika’i Rudolph

With this season of the festivals of light upon us (Hanukkah, Christmas, Solstice, Kwanzaa), I wanted to focus on the more joyful aspects of our lives. For that, I have been diving into passages about joy and singing in the bible.

Sometimes when I write these posts, they take me in directions I never thought to go. This post is one of them. The surprise direction I found is in the Psalm below:

Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works.

Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.

Psalm 105:2-3 KJV

The word used for sing, in this passage is shir which uses the root Hebrew letters shin, resh. (Remember, Hebrew is written from right to left.)

Here is the astonishing part: The Hebrew word sing has the same root letters as the names of both Asherah and Sara. I laid out the foundations of their names in more detail in a recent blogpost which you can read here

In the previous blogpost, I also wrote about shin, resh as not only the root of the names of these two divine women, but also as the root of the words umbilical cord, happy and blessed. As the image above shows, the letters in their ancient form are teeth (shin) followed by a human head (resh). The picture rebus displays teeth which break down the gestalt or the whole into digestible pieces which are then moved or expressed through the human head.

To make the word shir or sing from this root, a yud is added in the middle. Below is shir in its ancient form.

Notice how yud looks like an arm coming from above with a hand at the end. One of my favorite descriptions of it comes from Corinne Heline who calls it “the workman of the deity.”[1] It represents an active principle of work that is being performed. What work? I believe that is made clear in a common image found in ancient Egypt. It makes sense to look to Egypt for the ancient roots of the Hebrew letters because that was the source. The Hebraic people came out of Egypt bringing with them, the ancient forms of their writing based on hieroglyphics. Note the ancient image of yud above and then compare it to the rays in the image which come from the sun and end as hands.

Stela of Akhenaten, his wife Nefertiti, and two of their daughters sitting under the sun disk. This image with rays that begin at the sun and emanate to the pharaoh are a commonly seen representation. Notice that the rays (arms) extending from the sun end either with a closed hand or a hand holding an ankh. He reigned in the 1300s BCE.

This begs the question what is the work that is being done by yud as the “worker of the deity” and by what deity? The Egyptian image shows us that the letter spans the space between the heavens and the earth. It can be interpreted as drawing energy/wisdom from the sun. Put more simply, the hands are the activity, the “doing,” of drawing the flame of heavenly spirit to existence here on earth. Since the sun provides the chemical catalysts for life to exist on our precious planet, we can say that the work being done is that of fertility and creation. Historically, that is the work done by goddesses such as Asherah who, as we know, was connected with the mysteries of fertility and childbirth.

I believe that is why a yud shows up inside the word for singing. Yud is surrounded by the root names of the Goddesses. Singing, in this case, is the workforce of the goddesses.

The process of singing, of the pulsation of our bodies especially in blessing and rejoicing, form a vibrational umbilical cord between us and the heavens. We can see its parallel in the image of Akhenaton where an actual connection is shown. When we are born from our mother’s womb, we are connected to our source by a physical umbilical cord. When we are here on earth, we are able to maintain that connection to our spiritual source (represented by the sun) with vibration (represented by the rays extending down).

When I think about all the associations of the biblical god, the first ones that come to mind tend to be along the lines of an angry white man (with a lot of facial hair). This concept is of the divine constantly sending down punishments for the “sins” of “his” people not following “his” (and I mean his) commandments.

Contrast that with the associations of Asherah and Sarah. Based solely on the root of their names, they are the divine forces that connect us to our source. Their essences are joyous singing along with being happy and blessed. This is a far more loving and nurturing vision of the divine.

With all this in mind, here is my translation of Psalm 105:2-3

Sing, vibrate, pluck strings, bang drums

Connect passionately with creative, sacred powers.

The blessing of mysteries’[2] vibrations

rejoicing along with the hearts of those who quest


[1] Heline, Corine, The Bible and The Tarot, DeVorss Publications, 1969; 79.

[2] I am using Rabbi Levy’s translation of YHVH as Mystery.

BIO:

Janet Maika’i Rudolph. “IT’S ALL ABOUT THE QUEST.” I have walked the spirit path for over 25 years traveling to sacred sites around the world including Israel to do an Ulpan (Hebrew language studies while working on a Kibbutz), Eleusis and Delphi in Greece, Avebury and Glastonbury in England, Brodgar in Scotland, Machu Picchu in Peru, Teotihuacan in Mexico, and Giza in Egypt. Within these travels, I have participated in numerous shamanic rites and rituals, attended a mystery school based on the ancient Greek model, and studied with shamans around the world. I am twice initiated. The first as a shaman practitioner of a pathway known as Divine Humanity. The second ordination in 2016 was as an Alaka’i (a Hawaiian spiritual guide with Aloha International). I have written three books: When Moses Was a ShamanWhen Eve Was a Goddess, (now available in Spanish, Cuando Eva era una Diosa), and One Gods



Categories: Asherah, Bible, Divine Feminine, Feminism, Feminism and Religion, Feminist Theology, General, Goddess Spirituality, Goddess Spirituality, Women's Spirituality

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

30 replies

  1. “Singing, in this case, is the workforce of the goddesses.” I think writing should be included too. Surely then you are inducted into that workplace Janet for a second time! (In my dreams twice always means manifestation).
    What a fascinating post and so clearly written too. So often good scholarship disappears into too many words for my liking. I recall vaguely – had forgotten this – that Asherah and Sara were linked… I do remember feeling shock when I discovered that by accident I had sculpted an image of Asherah….

    This is a difficult time of year for so many people – I think it helps to focus on “good tidings”. We can do this without falling into sentimentality… Terry tempest Williams writes” I want to feel both the beauty and the pain of the age we are living in”… Amen to that.

    I’m going back now to read earlier post… as usual thank you for this scholarship.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Re -read earlier post which to my mind should be attached to this one… here Asherah is a tree of life: “She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her….” oh, if only we could feel this presence today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, yes Sara. Thank you for putting this together. You know there is no etymological connection that I know of with tree and Ashera but certainly in the bible, She was worshiped in tree groves or Asherot! There are so many beautiful ways to look at this!

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      • Is there no connection between Asherah and the ash tree? For example, Yggdrasil is often reported to be an ash.

        Or, the ashvattha tree in Hinduism.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I think there could be a connection. I have been called to the carpet by etymologists when I have connected words that do not have a scientifically known connection. I have come to feel that there is a certain vibrational essence which helps to explain why we see commonalities across cultures and times. Vowel especially have a vibration within us that is common. I think of the word for mother across the world, always with the mmmmmmm sound. Is there a basic vibration that it embedded in us that gives us certain messages? Perhaps this is the same with the “ash” sound.

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      • Oh I do so agree – i love the widening circles – wider and wider as we include more and more.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I love that you bring in the Egyptian sun disk. Earlier this year, Egyptologist Kara Cooney shared an image of the sun disk from Amarna on her Facebook page, and what immediately struck me was that the hands at the end of the rays were distinctly feminine. The image also had a male hand reaching up, which highlighted the contrast. In the comments, Kara agreed. So the diety of Ahkenaten’s proto-monotheism was, at least in some depictions, female.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Another beautiful and inspiring translation! The translation of “yud” puts me in mind of all the ways that singing brings about either physical transformation through work – songs sung, especially collectively, while milking, farming, or other activity — or social or political transformation. Here I’m thinking of the Joy to the Polls movement that brought music and dance to long lines of voters in the last election. And then, of course, song is a force for spiritual transformation also in so many ways, which is its own kind of very hard work. Your posts always leave me thinking about them the rest of the day!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Love it! Yes, let’s sing in whatever language we choose to whatever deity we choose, preferably to the goddesses and the kinder gods. Let’s sing our connections between heaven and earth, our connections with each other. I’ve always liked to rewrite some of the more popular Christmas carols: “Joy to the world/ the LIGHT IS BORN.” Yes, let’s sing and dance and honor our goddesses and our sisters and brothers around the world.

    Thanks for your impressive scholarship and for sharing it with us. Brightest blessings to you and other scholars!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you Barbara for your words. Yes, yes, yes, lets sing our connections. I love Joy to the world/ the LIGHT IS BORN. Do you have your rewritten songs posted somewhere? I would love to know more.

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    • Actually this is a fire festival in the old ways not a festival of light – Light comes in February!

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      • Interesting Sara, I am thinking that Light is a continuum and the growing of the daylight does begin at the Solstice (at least in the Northern Hemisphere).

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        • Oh yes of course it does but in ancient times this was primarily a fire festival…. First Light comes around February 2…. It interests me that we associate this turning with light when fire is such an integral part of as is shadow….Carol wrote a wonderful post s out celebrating this time of year as a time of darkness and not turning it into a season of light…. I really liked that post…. Summer is light – winter is darkness. Why can’t we give both their due?

          Liked by 1 person

          • You bring up an important point Sara, “Why can’t we give both their due?” So important and I couldn’t agree more. I am not sure, however, why seeing the solstice as a time of returning light doesn’t do that? It begs the question, can embrace the dark, find the treasures of the dark, rest in the darkness of the season even while we are aware of the returning light and even celebrate that it is in process?

            I see this an important topic with much more to delve into. I will have to go back to see Carol’s post and see her take.

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  6. Janet, I love your interpretations, as I always do. I have one quibble, though. “Bang” is such a violent word for what one does with Miriam’s “tof”. Options that come to me (in English; my Hebrew is minimal): stroke? tap? caress? play? reverberate? draw music from? thrum? pulse?
    I am loving this whole discussion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Judith, I appreciate the your comments. Hmmmm on “bang.” Another issue I need to think about but my first inclination is to stick with bang.

      I think of Psalm 98:4 “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.” (KJV ). I have been working on my own translation of this but don’t have it yet. Notice the “loud noise.” I also think of another quote which I first learned of from Rachel Pollack which is a Gabon Pygmy song – “All lives, all dances, and all is loud.”

      Divinity uses vibration, song, speaking for creation. There is nothing gentle about creation. Our own earth was created in a fireball of volcanic chaos. When the sperm hits the egg, it is not a gentle pairing. Neither is birth itself which is bloody, painful and volcanic to the body. And yet it all starts as an act of love (hopefully). Can we learn to be comfortable with this paradox?

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      • Apologies for my delay in responding, I’ve been thinking about this and still don’t really have clarity. I totally agree that the world was created through vibration, song and speaking. And I certainly accept living with paradox. I am a fan of Rachel Pollack. But I still have trouble equating “joyful” with “loud”. I think of Elijah’s “still small voice”, but the Voice’s requirement is very violent. Miriam’s dance was to celebrate the drowning of the Egyptians. I guess the inherent violence in the Hebrew bible is a discussion for a different blog.

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        • Just wanted to stop and in and say I hear you Judith. I think we all have our take on what a “voice” is and I think a small voice can be just as powerful as a loud, violent one.

          I agree with you also about the inherent violence in the bible. That is why I do the translation work I do. I believe we need new paradigms as these old ones have led us down a pathway that has led to separation, “otherness,” and violence.

          My first inspiration in writing is Eve and thinking about how our world would be different if we saw her as a Great Goddess and who freely and lovingly gave of the fruit of the tree.

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          • We are entirely on the same wavelength (!) on this one. Eve has been getting a bad rap (is that a violent image?) and needs to be re-framed as a loving, generous wife seeker after knowledge.
            I love discussions of this sort; many people do not acknowledge the cultural importance of Biblical stories and how they can be viewed through different lenses today.

            Liked by 1 person

  7. All so thoughtful and rich…first time reading and responding…with shyness…
    and once it is written it grows. And once it is read it grows
    I think we take what we need today. Sometimes it is the coming light…Sometimes it is the darkness…sometimes it is knowing the shadows in a new way….or maybe just BLAH for the time being
    etc etc….but that is not me today.
    the wider possibilities and the wider circles
    thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Judith. You get it too. My favorite topic of discussion as well! LOL

    Like

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