Shekinah, Divine Feminine
and the Holy Spirit
by Amy Torres*
Last night we had a guest from Israel in our Course in Miracles class. About an hour into class, I referred to the Holy Spirit as “He” and our guest, Hila, bolted upright with surprise! “He?” Hila said, making sure she heard me right. “Yes,” I answered, “The Course is written with Christian terminology. It’s a genderless “He” but the masculine is used.” “Not in the Hebrew edition,” she said. “What does the Hebrew edition say?” we asked. “She,” was the answer. And then a lightbulb went off in my mind: Shekinah–the Divine Feminine.
I suddenly remembered my interfaith seminary education where the concept of “Shekinah” was introduced to me by an African-American classmate. I am no scholar when it comes to Shekinah, but this is what I’ve gathered from a bit of research:
Shekinah is the spark of the Divine within us, what A Course in Miracles calls the memory of God within us, aka, the Holy Spirit. Shekinah and the Holy Spirit each seem to be a bridge to help us Home–both are often presented visually with the symbol of a dove. Shakti is also an aspect of Divine Feminine, found in Hinduism, but it is more concrete as an activating force within the world of form–Shakti is the life force within humans, animals, minerals, etc. I’m sure the Divine Feminine goes by many other names offered by countless cultures (Kwan Yin, Yemaya, Green Tara, on and on). The point is, as the Course teaches me, I don’t know anything. But I can use everything I think I know in service of God’s Will with the Holy Spirit/Shekinah as my Guide. I have ascribed meaning and interpretation to everything in the world, because I am the dreamer of the world. When I allow my source of knowing to be from Beyond this world then Love becomes the only pronoun.
Women, and sometimes men, often ask for inclusion of the feminine in A Course in Miracles language. It is interesting to find out that “She” is used in the Hebrew translation of the Course to represent the Holy Spirit. Remember, what is most important is that both “He” and “She” in A Course in Miracles are all-inclusive, therefore genderless. A pronoun is necessary to communicate with us, but whether it is male or female is ultimately unimportant. A Course in Miracles is not political–it is spiritual.
Spirituality, by definition, must be both female and male because the truth is we all are One. Spirit is the ultimate equalizer. Spirit is what truly empowers us. Miracle principle #1: “There is no order of difficulty in miracles. One is not “harder” or “bigger” than another. They are all the same. All expressions of love are maximal.” Because Love is maximal. No matter what the representation of Love–Jesus, Mary, Holy Spirit, Shekinah–Love is maximal. Love is the content which is constant, eternal. Everything else is symbolized in form, which is ephemeral, ever-changing.
My background is in psychology, not the bible nor the torah. And my resonance with A Course in Miracles has a lot to do with my desire to understand human nature non-judgmentally, with an open heart and an open mind. The Course tells us that anything that upsets us is of our own making–we have chosen pain and victimhood.
CONTINUED READING FROM NEWSLETTER
So when women (or men) feel left out or devalued by the omission of the female pronoun in A Course in Miracles, it is an opportunity to examine how we are separating and devaluing ourselves. Eleanor Roosevelt told us, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
The scribe of A Course in Miracles was Helen Schucman, a very accomplished professional woman. Her partner, without whom she could not have fulfilled her task, was a man, Bill Thetford (who happened to be gay). Ken Wapnick was instrumental in helping to organize the raw ACIM material, but Judy Skutch was the one who got it published. Ken started the first ACIM teaching institute, with his wife, Gloria Wapnick. And Marianne Williamson is the one who really popularized the Course–on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Everyone is included in God’s plan. If we are excluding ourselves, and we are true Course students, it is incumbent upon us to take responsibility for self-exclusion and give that fear-based belief to our Higher Self: Shekinah/Holy Spirit.
Sometimes students ask me, “Where is Mary in A Course in Miracles?” I don’t know. I don’t see Mother Mary or Mary Magdalene in A Course in Miracles, but it doesn’t matter to me. Because I know that if I want to commune with Mother Mary or Mary Magdalene, or Kwan Yin for that matter (the Buddhist Madonna, or Mother of All Buddhas) They are Right Here, Right Now. All I have to do is tune in to Her and ask for Her Grace, Her Compassion, and Her Guidance. Any spiritual teacher you desire is available to you–take the time to pray and meditate and you will find that out for yourself.
When the Course in translated into other languages, it is translated back into English again before being published, to make sure the Course teaching is accurately retained. Isn’t it beautiful and true that whether we say “She” or “He” the Holy Spirit remains the same Loving Memory of God in our mind? We can count on the constancy of Love Itself. There are no semantics, there is no discrimination within God’s Mind. God is empowering, God is empowerment. God is Love Power. Know God and you will know Thyself, masculine, feminine and everything in-between.
P.S. I received an email from Hila, the student who told us about “Shekinah” on her arrival home in Israel. Hila said: “Just one more thing: my teacher, Efrat, was involved in the translation process. She told us that there was a “debate” as to whether the Holy Spirit should be translated to the Christian term “Ruach ha-kodesh” or to the Jewish term “Shekinah.”
Eventually it was the Jewish Shekinah that was used. However, in Hebrew, even the Christian term for Holy Spirit –Ruach Ha-kodesh – is feminine. The decision was between the Jewish or Christian term, but both alternatives in Hebrew were feminine.” What a beautiful reminder that we are all the Same.
© 2011 Amy Torres
*Amy Torres is a Gestalt psychotherapist, interfaith minister, and yoga teacher, who teaches A Course in Miracles, which is the foundation of her work. She has developed the Language of Love, Harmony & Beauty© which is a form of emotionally responsible communication, conflict negotiation, and a way of “undoing” our identification with the ego. Reverend Torres is affiliated with One Spirit Interfaith Seminary in NYC. She loves dance, qi gong, the Sufi turn, latihan, and all forms of percussion. Her practice is based in Naples, Florida.