Monday, 11 November 2013

Is God He or She?

There was an article in the Daily Telegraph last week that claimed that thinking of God as ‘He’ is a purely cultural thing and that ‘He’ could just as well be referred to as ‘She’, though the article did admit that limiting God in any way determined by gender made no sense anyway. Of course, the latter point is perfectly true, God transcends form and cannot be limited by anything, but the article as a whole displayed a fundamental misconception of what God is and seemed to be prompted by the desire to fit spiritual truth into a form determined by personal prejudice. Now this is an accusation that could also be levelled at defenders of the so called patriarchal interpretation of religion and God, but the fact remains that conceiving of God as ‘He’ does make metaphysical sense in a way that conceiving of the Creator as female does not, and I will tell you why.

Absolute reality is beyond any idea of male and female as it is beyond duality and beyond quality of any kind. It is pure being, the One without a second that contains all things but in itself is No Thing. However if life is to be expressed then it must manifest and for that to happen the One without a second must appear as God the Creator who then, for Creation to take place, must bring forth from itself (or awaken since it already exists in potentia) the Eternal Mother which is Divine Substance or the form out of which the Creator creates. Form is Mother. This is the division of the One into two complementary principles and the beginning of what we might call masculine and feminine, though really it makes little sense to think of things in those terms at this stage. These two principles must act together in order that Creation may come about, the Father acting on the Mother who brings His thought to fruition through her being. Only through the working of the feminine aspect of divinity can idea take form and become reality, but the initiating creative impulse comes from the Father.

So, speaking symbolically, we can say that everything is created out of the body of the Mother but from the vision of the Father. The Mother is the matrix in which the thought of the Father is expressed and takes shape and without which it could not develop.

God the Creator, therefore, can most accurately be thought of as male because He is the acting principle behind manifestation but also because He stands in positive relation to Creation. As they say, all souls are feminine to God. However the Divine Feminine exists too, firstly as the substance out of which the Creator creates, but also, in case this mistakenly gives the impression of Her as purely passive, as the principle of Mother who is a divine being embodying love and compassion as well as sacrifice since it is she who gives her body to form the created worlds. To forestall possible objections I should add that it would be an error to claim that this description is merely a projection of human stereotypes onto a cosmic plane for, in fact, the reverse is the case. Human behaviour, when based on what is natural, is a reflection of archetypal cosmic principles or, as the famous Hermetic maxim has it, as above, so below.

What I hope to have made clear in the paragraphs above is that everything in Nature has been created out of the Mother, which is the passive or receptive principle in manifestation, by the Father which is the active principle. Hence, from the spiritual point of view, manifested life is made up of the union of spirit and matter with spirit as Father and matter as Mother. There is no implication in this scenario that one cosmic principle is better than the other since the two are equally necessary for creation to come about and, anyway, each suggests the other and is a part of the other. But they have different roles. The Father gives life. The Mother gives form to life.

This is a very simple outline of how life manifests and, it should go without saying, is more symbolically true than literally so, but nevertheless it expresses a reality. Out of the Great Unmanifest there emerges what become the two poles of manifest existence, and these are clearly described in various traditions as essence and substance, purusha and prakriti and so on, but the Masters sum it all up when they say (in Towards The Mysteries) that God is Father of Spirits, but Nature is Mother.

There is no doubt that in the past, particularly in Protestant countries and Muslim ones too, the Mother aspect of God has been devalued, if not neglected completely, and it should certainly be restored to full awareness in the interests of balance and harmony not to mention truth. However restoring it to its rightful position should be done with an awareness of what it actually signifies rather than an attempt to establish some kind of gender equality which is quite meaningless in this context. Spiritual beliefs should never arise out of political ideologies or personal preferences or in response to anything or in reaction to anything. They must always be based on the perception of truth as it is expressed in divine principles.


Anonymous said...

I have a question. In The Golden Ass, written in the 2nd century AD by Apuleius, the Goddess Isis appears in a vision and speaks these words.
“I am she that is the natural mother of all things, mistress and governess of all the elements, the initial progeny of worlds, chief of powers divine, Queen of Heaven, the principal of the Gods celestial, the light of the goddesses: at my will the planets of the air, the wholesome winds of the Seas, and the silences of hell be disposed; my name, my divinity is adored throughout all the world in divers manners, in variable customs and in many names”
Given all that how does the Goddess fit into your scheme of things? What does she represent?

William Wildblood said...

I would say that she is what she says she is. She is the mother of all things. She is the spiritual personification of Nature which is indicated by the symbolism earlier on in Lucius’s vision of the goddess when she rises out of the sea, garlanded with flowers and carrying corn, and decked with the light of the moon. Note that she rises out of the sea which equates her with the waters over which the Spirit of God hovers in the book of Genesis. As such she fits right into the above scheme of things as the feminine aspect of divinity. Note also that Isis (like the Virgin Mary in Catholicism) is Queen of Heaven but God the Creator transcends all creation and that includes time, space and heaven.