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In order to examine my impressions of the Divine feminine, I'd like to speak about the Virgin and Her nature.
The divine, in the nature of God, emanates from an absolute unknowable. As Dionysius the Areopagite said,
... we must not dare to resort to words or conceptions concerning that hidden divinity which transcends being... indeed the inscrutable one is out of the reach of every rational process. Nor can any words come up to the inexpressible good, this one, this source of all unity, this soup bread – existent being. Mind beyond mind, word beyond speech, it is gathered up by no discourse, by no intuition, by no name. It is and it is as no other being is. Cause of all existence, and therefore itself transcending existence, it alone could give an authoritative account of what it really is.
— Pseudo-Dionysius, The Complete Works, translated by Colm Lubheid, Paulist press, New York, 1987, pages 50-51
The tricky part, of course, comes shortly thereafter, when our friend Dionysius advises us,
But as for now, what happens is this. We use whatever appropriate symbols we can for the things of God. —ibid, p. 53
So we understand that as we begin this discourse, we use words as best we can, even though they are always inadequate.
The mystery of Mary is equally impossible to express, because Her Being, although it can and does express itself on this level, emanates from so close to the divine (true) source of all being that she cannot truly be separated from it. The most esoteric Catholics fully understand this, which is why the cults of Mary have been so strong throughout the history of Catholicism; the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch, among other great esoteric traditions, emerged from the womb of Mary's spiritual inspiration, as did the cathedral at Chartres and many other great works. Mary is the essence of fecundity emanating from the divine spirit; hence her place as the mother of Christ. Without her, even Christ could not come into the world: for God Himself required a mother to give birth to Him on this level.
This reveals a great secret, that is, that even though God is the Father, He is also born of the Mother. One can get into theological chicken and egg discourses here, but there is no point to it. We need not rationalize through theology, but ought rather rather work through Theurgy — perform the work of God by understanding the Divine in both its masculine and feminine aspects.
Although she does not have corporeal Being, Mary is "essentially" female—she radiates a Divine feminine aura— and if you encounter Her, you'll most instantly know that, without any doubt. The knowledge will enter your heart like an arrow and pierce you to the depths of your soul with the knowing of her femininity, her motherhood, her perfection, and the essential embodiment of everything you could ever conceive of as Mary within Mary as She is.
At the same time, even though Her radiance unfolds itself in a way that in a single instant surpasses the entire Flower Ornament Scripture with all its heavens and angelic beings, she remains indescribable and beyond all Being as we know it. Yet if she touches you, you will know her in this way: through Truth, and Truth alone. This is an objective fact and has nothing to do with our opinions or thoughts about what Mary is.
Taking this into account, it appears as though on our level, the divine has a distinctive and irrevocable female aspect that can only be understood that way: divinity, that is, Truth, expresses itself to us through the mother first, before the father. This is why Mary comes before Christ, just as John the Baptist did, in the allegorical sense but far more intimately.
I can think of no closer point to come to God and His inexpressible nature than first, through this point of contact in motherhood. Divine Motherhood is the point of radiance through which Truth is emanated into the material world; and so we are all the children of Mary, from the beginning and unto the end, because Her motherhood gives birth to the material world itself, and everything in it.
In this sense, we realize that femininity is very close to the material fabric of the universe, and the must have a relationship, in a mysterious and poorly understood way, to the quantum expression of energies in the ground-floor fabric of reality. We are penetrated through and through with this feminine nature of Being; our very arising is rooted in it, because we, being material, begin as receiving vessels for the divine. In this way, every one of our cells, every one of our atoms and molecules, helps Mary — the feminine divine — play her role in the birth of Christ, which is the birth of Truth in all its aspects as it manifests in reality at large.
Well, these are some big thoughts, aren't they? Maybe we had better settle down and come into relationship with our sensation — close to the root of our own being — and see how this has an essentially female quantity that receives life.
Lee van Laer is a senior editor at Parabola Magazine.