The Dark + Divine Feminine

Marion Woodman is a Canadian writer and celebrated women’s movement figure.  As a Jungian analyst, lecturer and poet, she has shed much light on feminine psychology and embodied spirituality.  She overcame uterine cancer as well as many crises of faith and now, at 82, she is at life’s threshold.  Thankfully, someone had the foresight to film a documentary about her: Dancing in the Flames.

Last night I saw the (cozy) Chicago premier, and could not stop crying.  There were many reasons for my waterworks, but the two I want to write about here are packed in this post’s title: the dark and divine feminine. 

Huh?  Where do you find that?  Exactly.

Black American women rooted in Christianity do not have visual representations of our divine nature.  To put it bluntly, it is a white man’s religion.  “Jesus died for all,” we are assured.  And acceptance of that gift solely sustained me… until I started craving stories and images that reflected the beauty of my darkness and femininity.  Judaic/Euro-based patriarchy doesn’t quite know what to do with round, chocolate hips.  And those brown hips — and the women who carry them — matter.  I’ve heard the defense that since we all hail from Africa anyway, it doesn’t make a difference.  But it does.  This is a long way from this.  Clearly, the two are not interchangeable.

How important is it to feel related to, rather than separate from, your idea of Divinity?  For me it became very important.  So with my love for Jesus firmly planted, I began reading outside my tradition, and learned of African and Indian goddesses who appealed to me on an immediate and visceral level.  At first this felt like cheating; some sort of spiritual betrayal.  Would I lose my salvation by nurturing a spiritual life that goes beyond the walls and floors of traditional Christian churches?  Can I honor the wisdom of dark, divine femininity and soon celebrate Christmas consciously?  These are complicated questions, and I’m thankful for a personal faith that’s strong enough to ask them.

(For the loving record, I have never spoken or written publicly about this before because controversy is such a divisive and energetic drain.  But my strong weeping last night compels me to be more forthright about having conflict with one’s religion.  Truly, I mean no disrespect to any reader, and I pray my candor is received with the earnestness in which it was written.)

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18 Responses to “The Dark + Divine Feminine”

  1. Julie Daley Says:

    You beautiful sacred woman, you. This post just sent zings up my spine. Zings of truth. Powerful truth acknowledged by the shedding of copious tears. To honoring the deep, dark and powerful divine feminine…and those gorgeous chocolate hips.
    With love,

    • Erika Harris Says:

      Sister Julie,

      Unabashedly female — divinely wild and creative — I honor your leadership in this pulsing conversation. Without doubt, it helped me to finally get this squeak out :-)

      Returned love,

  2. Erika Harris Says:

    Thanks to Suzanne G. for this link to “Jesus of the People”:

  3. alisha Says:

    This is something I too have wondered many times. Thankfully I have studied many different religions and because of that no longer associate myself with just one. A religion of me, I guess? But I think as long as I get to tell myself stories and believe in the stories that give me hope and strength, support my values and keep me a compassionate and loving being, than that is what will work.

  4. Geoffrey Rosenberg Says:

    I’d say you are really exfoliating something here and its leaving you deep dark and full of life! Not being Christian, black, or a women, at least not recently, I can’t directly relate to your experience. I have felt left out at certain times, but not to this degree. Its interesting that the holy spirit as far as I know is the female aspect of the trinity but Christianity certainly doesn’t advertise it. Judaism at least intellectually says Shekinah is the female aspect but still doesn’t do due diligence to female equality or superiority in some cases. Let’s hear it for KALI.

    • Erika Harris Says:

      :: scrub-scrub-scrub :: LOL! Shekinah dances through me (not even kidding) and, absolutely, Kali is one of our (yours and mine) greatest shared loves. So blessed by your wizardry, friend :-)

  5. goldenraindrop Says:

    Hi Erica,

    I really like your post. I think it’s an issue to a lot of women, to find something divine to relate to, and our monotheistic religions don’t always offer enough to satisfy that hunger.
    Thanks for your insights :)

  6. NancyG Says:

    Thank you! I have seen depictions of Jesus with milky white skin, blondish brown hair and BLUE eyes.

    “Black American women rooted in Christianity do not have visual representations of our divine nature. To put it bluntly, it is a white man’s religion.”


    “Judaic/Euro-based patriarchy doesn’t quite know what to do with round, chocolate hips. And those brown hips — and the women who carry them — matter.”

    Consider this list: Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Lao Tsu, Quetzalcoatl. Notice any particular race or gender missing from this esteemed group?

  7. Santari Says:

    Well who doesn’t like chocolate?

    My palette – taste palette, colour palette, love palette – is a wide open space that loves to depict beauty. And where does the beauty come from anyway but from our wildly creative spirit? And where does that spirit reside but in the essence of every particle of delight-filled possibility!

    So basically everything in my world, in your world, in our world is a tremendous burst of potential that sits side by side effortlessly. Let go of any doubt or concern that you might have about fitting in or being truly seen. You already sit perfectly in the most Divine of places – yourself – and that’s where we always meet together, no matter what. ♥♥♥

    • Erika Harris Says:

      “Well who doesn’t like chocolate?”

      Santari, you are as smooooth as you are galactic! Thank you. I deeply value you and your cosmic perspective on tiny, mundane earth matters :-) With childlike fingers, I do grasp that my consciousness is without limit. It’s the finite context (e.g. religious roots, or a society that practices racial favortism) in which my uber-consciousness resides, that trips me up from time to time. Ahh, the dilemma and deliciousness of embodiment!

  8. Diva4Faith Says:

    Beautiful post

  9. Tanya Says:

    The dark and the divine, my Female Godness, is found when i allow my consciousness to rest, not up high in the stars, but down, wayyy down in my own body and… i dive into the infinite Cosmic Creative womb right there, inside, down, wayyy deep down…how fabulous is that?! Love the tears Erika. What rivers of Creation were being formed right there for others to swim in, to float their boats, to paddle and snorkle, to be nurtured and nourished….
    with love, Tanya

    • Surya Devi Says:

      Erika, I am so moved by your courage to speak up, to free the voice of your womb. So many dark and lovely sistahs would benefit from reading your words. I must share.

      @ Tanya, I so love your comment about your fabulous voyage into the depths of your womb power while linking with the cosmic womb.

      Sharing my blog with you – – there is something there for your every divine feminine wonders I now follow yours.

      Goddess blessings!

  10. philosophical spin Says:

    philosophical spin…

    […]The Dark + Divine Feminine « LIFEBLAZING[…]…

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