13th Brighid – Lunadi
I hope my readers had a warm and festive Lucidi / Luciad. With all the snow around, Spring seemed very far off for myself on the day itself, but now we have plenty of rain and grey skies which is more apt for early British Spring.
My thoughts have been swirling a lot around the Daughter recently. I wanted to share a contemplation which ties into part of my reasoning lately from distancing my path from the Gnostic Christian roots which my belief in Sophia was found. Without wishing to offend any Gnostic or mystical Christians or Jews, most of it came down to realising that there are uncompromising differences between the Gnostic understanding of the divine feminine and the Déanic/Filianic understanding. I’m also not trying to state that the Filianic outlook is superior, merely why I connect to it more as a devotee of Déa Sophia.
This came about when I posed on a question on the Facebook page of one my old Gnostic groups, confronting an issue which I should have addressed years ago, about why in their tradition; the Daughter aspect of the Godhead (the last ‘Heh’ of YHVH) is referred to primarily as Bride, while the secondary masculine ‘Vah’ is referred to as Son. Far more seemed to be talked about in regards to the bond between the Father and Son, even Mother and Son, but the Bride’s primary relationship was with the Son. There is a connection between her and the Mother but it’s not the same as that of the Father and Son. They are not Mother and Daughter in the same united sense but more Mother an Daughter-in-law. She is married into the divine union through the Son, rather than divinity being Her birthright. One of the Elders responses was just as I predicted; that the word ‘Nuvka’ (Daughter) in their teachings – which is supposedly from Kabbalah but through a ‘Gnostic Christian’ lens ‘ corresponds to the unawakened aspect of the human consciousness. While the Son is already awakened, his awareness restricted personally, the Daughter must unite with him to become the Bride (Kallah), in which the Christ Consciousness joins with the unawakened human consciousness and humanity becomes awakened.
In short; the Son represents the supernal, divine saviour, while the Daughter-Bride is humanity in a fallen state needing to be rescued. Yeshua and Magdalene become the primary avatars of this, as Yeshua is the messiah and Magdalene the fallen until her perfect ‘union’ with Him through marriage – her being a spiritual teacher in her own right is secondary. This is not an analogy unique to Gnosticism. I’ve heard similar metaphors in Sufism and Sikhi and Greek philosophy. My personal issue is not so much the metaphor itself, which seems very apt given how patriarchal religions have been. It’s the fact that traditions are still holding up this analogy as an example of pro-feminism in their religion, mostly stated by the men who don’t understand why this is problematic. “We have feminine imagery in our faith, therefore we are supportive of the feminine.” There’s no regards to what the feminine represents or how demeaning it is for the female to be used as an image of the impure, the fallen, the rescued, and the male as the hero, the divine, the perfect.
A message to all (but especially male) writers, whether it be of religion, philosophy or media: Representation is about quality, not quantity.
I mention media because this is something you also see prop up a lot in fiction where a writer believes that simply by inserting a minority character is enough to win some sort of points with that demographic. This main character has a gay best friend. This group of friends has one girl out of five boys. This side character is black. Never mind that the gay best friend will never have a developed, on screen relationship with a same-sex partner. Never mind that the black character will either be the wise Uncle Tom stereotype or be killed off. Never mind that the girl will be a flat, supporting character until she marries one of the guys. For the writer these characters are props more than people. They have little to no agency of their own; most of which is given to the white, straight, male hero. This was the case for a very long time, and yes we are getting better at decent representation, but people are still making the same old misstep of not realising how harmful it is to taken away the agency from a character who is female, gay, black, disabled etc.
Allow me to draw a quick comparison to one of Disney’s latest live-action remakes; Cinderella. A beautiful film, yes, but one with a glaring flaw that stopped me from loving it past the aesthetic and the few other improvements it made on the original, and that was Cinderella herself. All the hype leading up to this movie upon its 2015 release was that this Cinderella was going to be ‘stronger’, ‘independent’ and more of a role model for young girls. See, even before this movie’s release, there had been somewhat of a backlash to the older Disney Princesses; especially Cinderella. People seemed to be under the impression that the movie’s lesson was “be a doormat and wait around for a man to rescue you”. Not exactly sure why Cinderella got that more so than Sleeping Beauty or Snow White, both of which literally spent the finale lying down doing nothing until their prince awakened them. People also ignored the fact that Cinderella was an abuse victim and that, despite all that, she still showed a lot of personality and bite to her situation, as well as kindness and loyalty to her mouse friends. But regardless of that, what did this new Cinderella bring that was an improvement on the old?
Nothing. If anything they take away what strength and agency the previous animated Cinderella had. Unlike the 50’s version, the new Cinderella doesn’t grow up in her abuse – she is well into being a young adult when her father dies and she’s lived a life being adored and well treated by him. Her grief at losing him and her new family’s treatment of her is sad, but even the villagers remark how she is free to leave whenever she wants, something which the old Cinderella had been conditioned to believe wasn’t possible. The new Cinderella makes an excuse about how she can’t abandon her family’s house, but that gets negated at the end when she does just that. Yes, this Cinderella is kind and courageous to deal with her abuse, which are admirable qualities, but all she does is smile or cry. And at the climax, she does exactly that which people falsely accused the old Cinderella of – she stays locked in her room until someone rescues her. The narrator even talks about how she was content to stay there and starve, singing and dancing to herself, dreaming of her prince. Meanwhile, back in the 50’s, the other Cinderella is banging and shouting and fighting for her freedom, she’s helping guide the animals to save her. And it’s not even the prince who comes to her, but the Duke. Even when the Stepmother thinks she has won by smashing the slipper, Cinderella has the moment of triumph by presenting her own one. The new Cinderella doesn’t have this moment; her animals are the ones that free her, the prince finding her is more down to coincidence, and very little feels earned because by trying to make this Cinderella more flawless, more the image of the ideal kind woman, her agency and struggle has been taken away. Hence why the Prince comes out a much stronger hero than the title character, whereas in the original he barely had any screen-time and people forget why this was a good thing – because he’s not supposed to be the hero; Cinderella is.
Just a quick note to say that the late 90’s movie Ever After remains as the best live-action ‘updated’ version of Cinderella where she quite literally saves herself at the end. But I still stand by that Disney’s original has a much stronger and admirable heroine than people give her credit for.
Taking that back to the archetype of the Holy Daughter; the contrast between these two Cinderellas can be made to that of the difference between the Gnostic idea of the Daughter and the Filianic one. The Gnostic Daughter represents the Saved, the Redeemed, the Fallen. The Daughter in Filianism is both Saviour AND the Saved.
Our Lady Anna undergoes her own hero’s journey. She begins as the sheltered princess at her Mother’s side, pure and holy, before stepping out on Her own mission at Lucidi. Here She vows to spread the light of Déa to every corner of creation. In Her travels, She witnesses for Herself the suffering which maids endure in their separation from the Mother. Weeping for us, Her lost sisters, She vows to do that which is needed so that all might come to return to the Mother again, so that not a single soul may be lost. Her Mother warns Her that to do this would cost Her greatly and cause Herself great suffering. Anna knows this and agrees, regardless. As in so many hero’s journey, She must fall, before She can rise. For there cannot be victory without great sacrifice. Hate cannot be undone without an act of great Love. She is not passive in Her fall, She is willing, and She shows tremendous courage in facing the keres who come to taunt and mock Her.
By descending into Hell, Anna endures the most painful and humiliating torture. Every aspect of Her regalia and dignity is literally torn from Her. In these trials She subjects Herself to every single second of suffering that has been felt by creation in our illusion of separation. From the tiniest paper-cut to the most brutal assault, from the smallest word of insult to the most agonising heartbreak, She endures it all with us. By subjecting Herself to our suffering, She allows us to co-labour with Her, to struggle and learn and grow in Her trembling light. When we fall, we fall with Her. When we are lying cold and broken on the floor, Anna is lying there at our side, Her hand reaching to our own. Even unto that which we fear most in instinct, Death, is confronted by Her. Though She cries and trembles with us, She whispers:
“Be not afraid. For my passion has set down the path which my Mother will follow. She will come for me and for all her daughters. Believe in Her and in Me, for all will be saved.”
Which is exactly what happens. Our Lady descends to rescue us, by becoming the one who requires saving, not by a male hero or a bridegroom – by Her own Mother. By OUR Mother. In shattering Her spirit, Anna united us all in one great body, from the highest to the lowest. Our Mother is the light that finds us, that raises us up from the chasm of khear. Much like the Fairy Godmother who comes to give Cinderella the keys (or slippers) she needs to escape her torment, Our Mother revives the Daughter so She can rise anew. Our Lady carries us all with Her, out of the Hell which is our deepest and darkest experiences of this world and beyond, up and into Heaven; into awakening.
I wish to state that I haven’t meant to imply that traditions who use the bride-analogy are wrong in their language or should change it. They are welcome to their own language and metaphors. I only wish that groups today would stop holding this analogy up as one that is empowering of women, especially when so many of these groups still use primarily masculine language and imagery for the Divine, in particular the creator and saviour. Just be upfront and admit that your tradition believes the feminine is that which is weaker or half the worth of the masculine. If you don’t believe that is the case then perhaps changes and revisions should be made because otherwise your tradition has a very contradicting message. “Women you are equal to men, but in this metaphor the daughter is not whole until she becomes a bride and mother while the son is already perfect but lonely.”
For as long I have known the Holy Daughter, She has been my hero and saviour, as much as being connected to my own soul and labouring with me for salvation. She has always been a Virgin, not in the patriarchal sexual or unmarried sense, but in its original usage as independent, with no ties to a consort, male or otherwise. In the same way Her Mother is called Virgin as She reproduced without any need of a husband or father. Again bringing up that image of parthenogenesis, of bringing forth a part of Herself as Her child. To those who still include the Father and Son in their Godhead, I can understand and empathise with that, only I hope that four-part union can be seen without the sexist and hetero-normative metaphors which are so harmful to many believers, even if it’s naive or unintentional. Let the Holy Daughter be celebrated in Her own right, let Her loving bond with the Mother be honoured, let Her bond with the Son be one of twin souls – of brother and sister more so than husband and wife – to have Her be seen as much of a hero as he and magnificent in Her own right. Let women have their divine feminine images be inspiring, not just merely ‘present’ and passive, a damsel for ‘Him’ to save.
May sweet Anna’s kind and courageous love be received by all the world, even to those tangled up in the thickest web of khear. May the tears of Our Mother wash away the moira of our souls and set us free into the Light.
Blessed is She.