We are honored to have as our guest blogger, Marianne Widmalm who is a native of Sweden, living in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She is the author of “God is not Alone: Our Mother – the Holy Spirit” published 2015 by Avalonia: http://www.avaloniabooks.co.uk and available at Amazon US & UK.
Marianne Widmalm, (photo above) has a B.A. in International Politics & Religion and an M.A. in Near Eastern Studies with a concentration in the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel, both from the University of Michigan. The thesis that served as the foundation for her book was published in an article called “God’s Wife” in the Academic Journal “the Biblical Historian” February 2005 under the guidance of the late Professor Noel Freedman.
Ancient Alien Goddesses is pleased to present:
The Return of the Divine Feminine
~ by Marianne Widmalm
“While attending the University of Michigan for my Master’s I was doing research for a paper on Psalm 29 when I thought of another interpretation for one crucial word in Hebrew. It eventually lead me to writing a book about the subject that was finally published last year: “God is not Alone: Our Mother – The Holy Spirit.”
The book centers on a new reading of the creation story of Mankind in Genesis and reveals the presence of a heavenly feminine force—complementing the male God—who is present from beginning to end. This is not something I wishfully sought out because I wanted to find it. I didn’t need to do linguistic gymnastics while turning a blind eye to logic and history to invent something that wasn’t there. Instead, it was more like connecting the dots of a map that lead to a treasure that had been waiting to be discovered for millennia.
Genesis describes man and women as the pinnacle of creation because we are the only ones created in the image of God. The Hebrew word for “image” refers to a physical likeness which in itself presents the question: in whose image was woman made? In Genesis 1:26 God said, “Let us make man in our image” and it has been a long standing question for theologians who God is talking to when He uses the plural pronouns. Early church fathers thought this was a reference to Jesus. But, modern scholars believe it represents the ancient Canaanite pantheon. Let me explain.
When Abraham came to the Promised Land from Ur he had a meal with the Canaanite high priest Melchizedek who blessed him in the name of his God El Eliyon, translated as “God Most High.” A few hundred years later Moses came to know God in Egypt and learned about His personal name “Yahweh.” He was specifically told by God that He was formerly known as El Shadday—translated as “God Almighty—to his ancestors (Ex 6:3). God repeats to Moses that He is the same God as the God of his ancestors in Canaan: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In other words, the Canaanite El and the Hebrew Yahweh are the same Deity.
Now, in addition to El the Canaanite religion had a pantheon of subordinate gods: the one scholars think the plural pronouns refer to. But, these minor divinities were never creators. Instead, El of Canaan had a wife named “Asherah” and this top couple were creators of everyone else. For that reason, it is my proposition that the plural pronouns in Genesis 1:26-27 refer to El and Asherah. She is the one at God’s side during the creation of Mankind. It is in her image woman was made.
On its surface, this proposal doesn’t seem to make sense because Asherah’s symbols are denounced in the Bible when monotheism was enforced. But, there is more to the story. For example, her statue was in the Temple for hundreds of years. Archeological finds have unearthed innumerable female figurines from the relevant place and time era that likely represent her. There have also been texts discovered on jars suggesting that Yahweh and Asherah were understood as a couple and worshipped as such. My theory is that although Asherah’s symbols were outlawed her presence did not vanish but continued in other forms.
Before I elaborate a little on this it is necessary to first understand that Hebrew was, and still is, the sacred language of the Jews. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew. Jesus would have studied the Holy Scriptures in Hebrew while his native tongue was the closely related language of Aramaic. This is crucial because in both Hebrew and Aramaic, the Holy Spirit is feminine. While this is well known to Biblical scholars it is virtually unheard of for others including Christians. But, this is not an irrelevant grammatical detail because there is plenty of evidence that it had theological implications.
In my book I present evidence that the Holy Spirit and Wisdom, who is also feminine in Hebrew, were acceptable manifestations of Asherah. Here are some illustrations of this. The Spirit of God is present in the second sentence of the Bible. It says “the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.” One of Asherah’s epithets is thought to mean “Lady who treads the sea.” Then we have the very first sentence in Genesis that begins with the words “In the beginning.” The Hebrew word “beginning” has the same root as “first” used as in Proverbs 8:23, connecting the Spirit to Wisdom who says she was formed “first” before the earth. She continues to describe how she was with God, before and during the creation of all things, as no less than a co-creator, even though she herself was brought forth from God. Wisdom, just like the Holy Spirit, fills believers and guides them from the inside to know the truth and will of God. In the New Testament the Spirit of God takes a more prominent role and she is described by Jesus as not acting on her own authority (Jn 16:13). This suggests she had a separate persona which is also why she later became the third person of the Trinity.
The reason we cannot detect the Holy Spirit’s feminine presence in the New Testament is because the oldest surviving texts are all written in Greek. In the Greek language the Spirit is neuter which obscures her true gender. In some places, for grammatical reasons, she is even masculine. However, this is not how Jesus would have addressed her. To understand what happened we must look at history. As the early church grew there were more and more Greek speaking gentile converts, the original Apostles were martyred and the schism with other Jews increased. Because of that, eventually there was a switch from Hebrew to Greek as the prominent language among believers. With Greek taking over, the femininity of the Spirit was gradually lost. By the time the Nicene Creed was written in 325 A.D. the Holy Spirit became part of an all-male Trinity and the cover up was complete.
Despite this we can still detect her in the English translations of the New Testament. It won’t register for most people unless you are aware that the Spirit is feminine. But, once you do, many things will make more sense. For example, Jesus talked about the necessity to be “born again” and this terminology is specifically used to make an analogy with women giving physical birth because the Holy Spirit is feminine. Likewise, the body of Christ as the “bride” is because believers have the Holy Spirit who is feminine. This concept also goes back to Israel as God’s Wife because Wisdom made her abode there. Her domain is earth while His is heaven.
These glimpses are just part of numerous indications that Wisdom and the Spirit are the same feminine power and the continuation of Asherah—the Wife of God—whom He spoke to at Creation.
The significance of the Holy Spirit’s femininity is also supported by historical context. There are a plethora of texts from early Christians known as “Gnostic” texts that put theological weight on this matter. The term “Gnostic” is misleading though because it is a name given by modern scholars retroactively to manuscripts that have certain themes in common. According to early sources the Gnostics were one sect among many while the writers of those documents came from various places and schools of thought. Additionally, there were non-Christian Jews at the time of Jesus, and before, that considered the Holy Spirit’s feminine gender to have theological importance as well. Most of all, there are numerous early church fathers that wrote about a “Gospel of the Hebrews.” It was penned in Hebrew by the Apostle Matthew and said to be the first one composed. Though it has not been found we have several quotes from it. One in particular stands out: Jesus calls the Holy Spirit his “Mother.” This is profound and Christians worldwide should know about it.
This clashes with trends today where some lobby to understand God as gender neutral in efforts to make the Bible more politically correct. However, the Bible denounces censorship and altering texts in the strongest terms. Jesus himself spoke out against this. If you resort to such tactics you have missed the entire point of sacred Scripture. Ironically, that would bury the presence of the divine feminine even more. Jesus calling God his “Father” is a title that even in itself requires the presence of a Mother. Women do not gain value by blending into a gender neutral mass. Instead, that exterminates us. Neither should we measure our worth by seeking to be like men. The return of the divine feminine will happen when we respect ourselves for what we are in contrast to men. The Holy Spirit’s feminine gender teaches us just that.”
Thank you so much for sharing with us, Marianne. You can follow Marianne on Twitter @
Below I have sourced some images of Asherah on line from https://syburi.wordpress.com/2014/04/03/yahweh-and-his-asherah/
Above photo of Asherah with two lions, in clay.
These figures (above) are commonly found in archaeological digs around Palestine.
Asherah tablet (above).
This (above) is taken from an engraving on a jar, showing Yahweh together with Asherah.
Above are contemporary figurines of Asherah and Yahweh.
Also please see my blog entitled, Would There Still Be God Without Mrs. God? https://ancientaliengoddesses.com/2016/02/23/would-there-still-be-god-without-mrs-god/
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