Christ Risen, Women Rising

In a metaphysical imagery workshop last Sunday, I allowed myself to be led into a sculptor’s workshop. Offered the tools to recreate myself, I shaped two hands from clay, a block beneath representing the cross and nails through the palms. Tears rolling down my cheeks, I chipped the first nail head away, then lifted the hand and melted it into my right. The second nail I pushed through the flesh before melting it into my left.

When I was done, I was invited to receive guidance from my Wise. I expected the Father, but instead my Lady came to me, easing my grief with this testimony:

You are everything that I ever desired.

When the tears of relief eased, she took my hands and offered:

It is time for you to rest. Let me do my Work.

Is this Mystery?

The feminine agency in salvation is obscure. Clearly the womb is a gateway, for it is through Woman that all virtue comes into the world. Surrendering that virtue to the sacred purpose appears to be among Woman’s challenges. Sarai resisted the faith of Abram, and Leah struggled mightily against the conception of Joseph. In desperation Jochebed surrendered Moses to the river. In Hannah we finally saw a woman offer a son gratefully to God, redeeming Israel with Samuel. But the Holy Mother herself resisted the ministry of Jesus. It is only at the wedding in Canaa that she surrendered to his warning that she would become merely “woman” if she commanded him to address the lack of wine. Later, Mary assembled the family and attempted to call Jesus home, to which he responded, “This is my family now.’

“Mary” (or Mariam) arises from “mry” in Egyptian, meaning “beloved,” and there are a great number of them in the New Testament: the Virgin, Mary Magdalene, Mary with Martha, and “the other Mary” heading to the tomb.

Women provide support for the ministry – financial as well as practical. While the men planned the administration of Jesus’ kingdom, despite their humble role it was from the women that social disobedience arose. They recognized the authority of Jesus’ love. The fallen woman used tears and hair to wash his feet at table.

But the most potent demonstration comes near the end. While the frightened men bickered in Jerusalem, it was left to a woman to play the role of the Old Testament priest, pouring oil over his head as he sat at table. Terrified, the Apostles objected to the waste of a valuable resource, for which Jesus chided them “She has done a beautiful thing for me.”

After Jesus was arrested, the Apostles scattered and Peter denied him. During Interrogation, both Pilate and Caiaphas demanded “Are you king of the Jews?” to which Jesus, foreseeing the disaster that would befall both Jerusalem and Rome, suggested gently: “You. Say I am.” Both feared that such testimony would incite the wrath of Herod, and so remained silent.

It is only right, then, that it was women bearing oil to the tomb who discovered the truth of the Resurrection. Even so they were shaken; both the angel and Jesus pled “Do not be afraid.”

I have private insight into the role of Mary Magdalene in the Passion. When I first encountered her spirit, we fell back through time to the Crucifixion, and as he struggled with the burden of our dependence on sin, an elder woman leaned over to whisper into the Magdalene’s ear: “He has need of you, child.” It was thus through the Magdalene’s devotion that time was opened to him, and to that devotion he returned. That yearning is evident when they reunited: she clasped him tightly – he responded obscurely:

Do not cling to me, for I have not yet returned to my Father in heaven.

Sera Beak documents the consequences of the Magdalene’s yearning in “Red, Hot and Holy.” Jesus was still rooted in the earth, and it was the Magdalene’s desire to continue his line that concerned him. No child should grow in a cauldron of suffering such as he experienced.

But what is a woman’s alternative? What other role does scripture offer her?

The answer is found in Revelation. In her first appearance, the Sacred Lady indeed manifested as a mother. But she remained after Christ was called back to heaven, bringing forth children to struggle against the dragon. To some, that tends naturally to the role of Mystery, the woman riding on the Red Beast. But in Revelation 20, a different outcome is foretold. The Bride steps forth, clothed in the works of the saints. It is not flesh that women should seek to gestate, but virtue.

While still suppressed, it is in Islamic history that women become active as facilitators of the sacred purpose. Khadija and Fatima are the avatars, and in Mohammad’s twelve wives we hear a strained echo of Israel’s twelve sons. In the great Muslim love poem, Yusuf and Zuleika, Potiphar’s spurned wife eventually reflects of her forbidden love:

Virtue was my beloved and thou
Had virtue’s impress on thy brow.

While walking Ventura’s March for Our Lives, I was touched more than once by Emma Gonzalez. I hold her most tenderly in my heart, her and all her friends. I offered that she could withdraw from her role – the feminine focus that holds her generation as it is led to wisdom. But she refused.

And in that endurance, strength and hope, I can indeed rest.

Divine Intercourse

At the AMP conference last month, Michelle Tepper’s topic was “breaking the silence on love, sex and relationships.” Michelle trumpeted her success reaching college students, but I found her message uncomfortable. She relies heavily on Biblical rules in framing responses to the psychological needs of individuals.

So when I approached her afterwards, I began by suggesting that we sit down, bringing our eyes to the same level.

As I explained, if any of us were complete in ourselves, we would be God. He made us a duality on purpose. I expressed my concern that this aspect of the Biblical message was underrepresented in her teaching.

Having warned us in her presentation that we shouldn’t go around looking for a relationship that completed us, Michelle was hostile to the idea. I guided her away from reiteration of her message, observing that I have been advising youth on-line.

Then the conversation took a sharp twist. She asked “Do you think that Jesus was satisfied?”

I knew that she meant sexually, but I shifted to a large view of his life. “No, he wasn’t satisfied at all. He knew that his culture needed to change, with a passion that drove him to the cross.”

Michelle wasn’t to be deterred. “I meant satisfied sexually. I believe that he was beyond that need.”

Well, it was time to plunge right in. I shrugged. “Read the description of the New Jerusalem. It is a metaphor for the union of the divine masculine with the divine feminine.”

She was struck dumb, as were the onlookers.

I continued “Look, the Bible is all about men’s problems. The holy mother is in hiding, and it is time for her to be sought out and revealed.”

I know that I appear to be uptight and tortured as regard my sexuality. But the Bible describes the brutal beast of the apocalypse as possessing ten “horns.” This is an apt metaphor for the masculine approach to dominance: many men run around the world trying to stick their penis into it. The feminine beast in Revelation is red, suggestive of the menstrual cycle. The feminine beast uses sex to co-opt masculine aggression.

So the reason that I haven’t been “playing the field” (which would be easy to accomplish) is because all the women that I meet accept these conventions. They may not wish to personify them in their relationships (part of what makes me attractive to them), but they accept that bestial patterns of dominance define the world that we live in.

Being who I am, I am incapable of submission to any ethic that limits the domain in which love is expressed. So I choose not to have a relationship with any woman that brings that with her.

Sera Beak has been in my mind ever since I read “Red, Hot and Holy.” I believe that she showed up at MovinGround one Sunday after I filled out her online contact form. In that message, I suggested that if we were each who we claimed to be, that would be apparent only in relation to one another. She was clearly uncomfortable in my presence during the dance, and stood before me timidly afterwards. My thought was “Not yet.”

She lives in Texas, though, which is a hot-bed of Christian hypocrisy. Last year I felt her reaching out in concern, and I poured power into her spirit, trying to expand her range of influence.

Why? Read the book: Sera went all the way in with the Red Lady, and found wisdom waiting for her on the other side. That wisdom came from the holy mother.

Putting this all together last night, I reached out again, sending “It’s time for us to merge our powers.”

But what are those powers? What is the nature of love, and how is sex a metaphor for its operation?

Our exploration last night was complicated by pragmatic concerns, but it boils down to this: any act of love that preserves self involves penetration and yielding. A gift is offered, but room must be made for it to be received. As we are aggregates (both physically and spiritually), reception is consensual at many levels. Full acceptance requires communication of the nature of the gift, and adaptation to the perceptions of those smaller parts. That involves circulation, which is stimulated by withdrawal so that the gift of yielding may be repeated again and again until consummated.

Yeah. This is “White Hot” and Holy. This is why Jesus told the Magdalene “Do not cling to me.”

The visualization eventually evolved as a complex many-dimensional Klein bottle. A man penetrates a woman, the women connecting to the Earth that gives life to the man, the male penetrating the Earth as light from the sun, the light from the sun sheltered in the womb of space, and on and outward.

The Bible, being concerned with men, celebrates the masculine aspect of God. But that is only half the story.

Red, Hot and Holy, Part I

In the introduction to Buddha, Deepak Chopra remarks that he had become much closer to Guatama than he was before the writing. I took that on face value, and gained great insight from the book. But when he followed up with Jesus, I could not bring myself to read the book. I mean, really, who was he to explain my avatar to me?

So it was with some trepidation that I picked up Sera Beak’s Red, Hot and Holy: A Heretic’s Love Story. Indeed, the first half of the book has manifested my concerns. Sera projects the myth of feminine victimization onto Christianity, perhaps not being aware that the very power that she celebrates in female erotic experience is that prison that men were trying to cast off through the celebration of a masculine god. Has the pendulum swung too far the other way? I would agree with that argument, but the question then remains: What kind of balance should we be seeking?

Sera divides her book into two parts, the dividing line being her relationship with a spiritual guide named Marion Woodman. The first part of the book charts her exploration of female spirituality and divine manifestations. From her academic study, she reports that Christian female mystics often reported a deep erotic element in their relationship with Christ. (I asked a nun once whether that was why they were called “Brides of Christ”, and she retorted “We don’t say that any more.”) But Sera goes further than that, identifying herself with the Hindu goddess Kali. From that relationship, Sera celebrates a feminine erotic power that goes far beyond sexuality, bringing healing to those that she pours it out upon.

I will not criticize Sera’s celebration, because in many ways I recognize that she is right. While I see the Whore of Revelation as a manifestation of primitive and destructive sexual urges that originated in ancient eras predating humanity (See the opening chapter of Conrad’s White Fang for elaboration), I understand that sex is a gift that men and women can use to bring love into the world. It cannot be suppressed, and so it must be sacralized. For that reason, there is much to honor in Sera’s writing. Just as the Virgin of Guadalupe and the Mormon angel are ancient gods that chose to survive through Christianizing themselves, so Kali attests that “red and hot” erotic experience is an expression of love for humanity.

But it is here that Sera’s myth of feminine victimization becomes a true liability. Human spiritual experience is terribly complex – look at the Hebrews as they struggle against the primitive will to destroy that is manifested in their God. But what Christ, the final manifestation of our exploration of “Good and Evil”, tells us about the journey is that it is our job to remake both earth and heaven. It isn’t all about us – spirits have their issues as well. That they are far more ancient than us means that they can justify, through the gifts they bring, the sense that we should consider it an honor to participate in their manifestation. But it is not an honor – it comes with the responsibility to push back when they express themselves in destructive ways, and so to force them to evolve.

There are incredibly beautiful and erotic passages in Revelation that inform that process. Sera, as a devotee of Elaine Pagels, does not remark upon them. I have celebrated them elsewhere, but this one deserves to be reiterated: it is the scene encountered by John as he enters the hall of the Lord:

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever.

The “twenty-four elders” are the mightiest and proudest angels of the realm. It is only the celebration of the one on the throne (Unconditional Love, as John tells us elsewhere) by the creatures living on Earth that forces them to lay down their crowns and submit to love’s authority. Sera should not see herself as a protégé of Kali, but as Kali’s mediator – one of a number of human filters that discipline Kali’s expression.

From my understanding of Christianity, this is the wisdom I would offer to Sera: the erotic power of women is the power to bind spirit to matter. That power is sacralized when it is used to bind love to the world around us. I see this view fortified through a throw-away line from the Book of Daniel. In predicting the reign of kings, it is said:

He will show no regard for the gods of his ancestors or for the one desired by women, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all.

The “one desired” being Christ. The reason that female mystics in the Christian tradition have an erotic response to Christ is because it only through that intimacy that they can use the power of their wombs to bind to the world the love that was manifested in him.

As Sera reports, that does not occur only through sex, and I have often found myself in recent years beating away (in the wee hours of the morning) sexual attentions from young women by explaining to them that this is something that they can express even while just walking in nature. Sera indeed heralds this power as a critical part of saving the world from the problems that we have created in it.

I hope for further examination of this process in the second half of the book. You see, in buying the book, then, I was hoping that Sera would reveal Mystery so that I could negotiate with this hidden figure. I may have to do that in person at some point.