Article Archetypes

Recovering the Divine Feminine

I would like to offer an archetypal overview of where and how the masculine and feminine archetypes—reflected in the image of a God or Goddess—became separated, and why this separation has led to such deep crisis in Western civilization. I am not speaking only of the pandemic, but the far greater challenge of climate change.

We live in a world that has been governed by the masculine archetype for some 2,500 years, without the feminine archetype to balance it, with no sacred marriage between them. As a result, world culture and the human psyche are now dangerously out of alignment with the Earth and the Cosmos. The Feminine stands for the soul, for the heart, for compassion and justice—the two primary values which protect and serve life. It is summed up in this statement by a Council of the Indigenous People of North America:

All Life is sacred. We come into Life as sacred beings. When we abuse the sacredness of Life we affect all Creation.

Through ignorance, hubris, and the belief that we could dominate nature to the advantage of our species alone, we have interfered so disastrously with the organism of the planet, that over the last 50 years, our growing numbers and our exploitation of its resources have brought about the destruction of 60 percent of all species. Today we are faced with a choice—a choice that will determine whether or not we survive as a species. Can we relinquish the false myth of growth, progress, and consumption we have been living by, and cease our ongoing assault on the life and resources of the planet? Or will we continue on the same senseless path of conquest and domination?

Two thousand years ago, this prophecy was recorded in the Fourth Gospel of the Essenes. This Gospel, and three others, were discovered by Edmund Szekely in the secret archives of the Vatican and translated from the Aramaic by him:

But there will come a day when the Son of Man will turn his face from his Earthly Mother and betray her, even denying his Mother and his birth right. Then shall he sell her into slavery, and her flesh shall be ravaged, her blood polluted, and her breath smothered; he will bring the fire of death into all the parts of her kingdom, and his hunger will devour all her gifts and leave in their place only a desert.

All these things he will do out of ignorance of the Law, and as a man dying slowly cannot smell his own stench, so will the Son of Man be blind to the truth: that as he plunders and ravages and destroys his Earthly Mother, so does he plunder and ravage and destroy himself. For he was born of his Earthly Mother, and he is one with her, and all that he does to his Mother even so does he do to himself.

Every word of this prophecy has come to pass. Believing ourselves to be separate from and above nature, we have grossly interfered with the harmony of the natural world and are bringing disease and possible extinction upon ourselves.

In order to transform our present view of reality we need to understand the ideas and beliefs that have created it. When did we lose the awareness that all life is sacred? Why did we lose the feminine archetype that connected us to nature?

Owing to the research that I and others have conducted over the last 40 years, we now know that in the Paleolithic and Neolithic eras, the principal deity worshiped was the Great Mother. In this forgotten cosmology, there was no Creator beyond creation. Creation emerged from the womb of the Great Mother. All species, including our own, were her children. Everything on Earth and in the Cosmos was connected through relationship with her.

Then, around 1,500 BC, there was a change so great that its repercussions are keenly felt in all aspects of Western civilization. This change was the replacement of the Great Mother by the Great Father. As the monotheistic Father, God brought creation into being as something separate and distant from Himself, so nature became split off from spirit and was no longer sacred. Simultaneously, the rise of powerful city states in the Middle East led to the creation of a succession of vast empires, territorial conquest, and war.

Although the architectural, artistic, and literary creations of these empires were extensive, the suffering created by them was also widespread. Millions of young men lost their lives to war and died in atrocious pain. Millions of women and children were killed, raped, or sold into slavery. Deep traumas were created in the collective psyche of humanity that are unhealed to this day. During millennia of war, we forgot about nature and our relationship with her. Gradually, we developed the idea that we were above nature, entitled to control and dominate her for the benefit of our species alone.

Another event contributed to the loss of the sacredness of nature—a forgotten event that also had a devastating effect on women and the planet.[1]

The Jewish people once worshiped both a Goddess and a God—a Queen and a King of Heaven—who together created the world. But in 621 BC, under a king called Josiah, a powerful group of priests called Deuteronomists took control of the First Temple in Jerusalem. They removed every trace of the Goddess Asherah, the Queen of Heaven, who was worshiped as the Holy Spirit[2] and Divine Wisdom, and also as the Tree of Life—a Tree that connected the invisible and visible worlds, and whose fruit was the gift of immortality. The shamanic rituals of the High Priest which had honoured and communed with the Queen of Heaven were replaced by new rituals based on obedience to Yahweh’s Law.[3]

But the Deuteronomists didn’t stop there. They also created the Myth of the Fall with its punishing God and its grim message of guilt, sin, suffering, and the banishment of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.[4] They demoted the Goddess—whose title was Mother of All Living—into the human figure of Eve. They blamed Eve for the sin of disobedience that brought about the Fall and for bringing sin, suffering, and death into the world. Henceforth, all women would be contaminated by Eve’s sin and would have to be under men’s control lest they create further disasters. From it there developed the idea that the whole human race was tainted by original sin, punished for a primordial act of disobedience. The created world was no longer a manifestation of the Tree of Life but was viewed as contaminated by the Fall, no longer sacred. Woman’s long oppression, even persecution, stems directly from this myth. Her voice was silenced for millennia.

Yahweh was left as the sole transcendent Creator God; The Divine Feminine aspect of God was deleted from the image of deity. The only place where the concept of the sacred marriage survived was in the mystical Jewish tradition of Kabbalah, known as the Voice of the Dove.[5] The Divine Feminine was not only banished from Judaism, but also from Christianity which took its image of God from Judaism. Islam also had a sole male creator god. The end-result of this new polarizing cosmology was that life on earth was split off from the divine world; nature was split off from spirit. Men came to be identified with spirit and women with nature. Body was split off from mind and mind from soul. Sexuality was sinful. Woman’s only role was to obey and serve man and carry his seed. All this was a complete reversal of the earlier cosmology focused on the Great Mother.

There is one further factor that needs to be included in this story: the deliberate decision by the Roman Church to wipe out all trace of Jesus’ marriage to Mary Magdalene. Think what it would have meant for the development of Western civilization if the union of Jesus and Mary Magdalene had been celebrated by the Church founded in his name. Had their marriage been recognized and Jesus not turned into the celibate Son of God, Christianity would have had a totally different history without a celibate male priesthood and without the terrifying persecution of women in the witch trials that scarred Europe for five centuries. We might have been spared the disastrous association of sexuality with sin and the misogyny and mistrust of women that affects our culture to this day.

Because of this history, we have been on the wrong path for more than two thousand years, out of alignment with the Earth and the Cosmos. It has led us to this time of crisis and of awakening, and to the need for a new, yet very old story that tells us we are the life and breath of the Divine in human form and that all life is infused with Divinity.[6]

Materialist or reductionist science is built on the flawed foundation bequeathed to it by patriarchal religion and has dispensed with both God and the soul. It tells us that the universe is without life, purpose, or meaning. When the physical brain dies, that is the end of us. The highest authority is the rational mind. We are separate from the world around us. The master story is technological progress and unlimited growth.

I think this explains why, in a worldwide culture influenced by the secular philosophy of science, we have come to believe that it doesn’t matter what we do to matter—that nature and matter are not sacred, that we are not part of that sacredness. This is why there is no foundation for morality in our relationship with the Earth. What we think we need, we take.

Jung could see the dangers of this materialist philosophy and commented:

As scientific understanding has grown, so our world has become dehumanized. Man feels himself isolated in the cosmos, because he is no longer involved in nature and has lost his emotional “unconscious identity” with natural phenomena… No voices now speak to man from stones, plants, and animals, nor does he speak to them believing they can hear. His contact with nature has gone.[7]

Once, long ago, the world was experienced as alive with spirit. Nature was part of a sacred cosmic whole. In spite of horrendous persecution, Indigenous peoples of the world have kept alive this awareness of the sacredness of nature and the idea of our kinship with all creation.

The new story emerging in quantum physics tells us that the universe is a unified field. Our lives are part of a cosmic web of life which connects all life forms in the universe and on our planet. Every atom of life interacts with every other atom, no matter how distant. A new vision is struggling to be born—a vision of our relationship with an intelligent, living, and interconnected universe.

We are called to a profound process of transformation that is manifesting as a new planetary consciousness: a consciousness which recognizes that we are part of a Sacred Web of Life. We need a science and a technology that does not seek to dominate nature but works with nature, humbly respecting its harmonious order. We need women who truly embody the Feminine to guide us,[8] working with enlightened men, to restore the values and the practices that can transform our relationship with the planet into one of love and care.

This pandemic carries an urgent message for us to wake up to the small window of opportunity we have to change course before it’s too late. This means change in every sphere of life: change in the very concept of what it means to be human and living on this extraordinary planet—change above all, in our relationship with the Divine Feminine. We tread a path which is on the knife-edge between the conscious integration of a new vision on the one hand, and the virtual extinction of our species on the other. Which path will we choose?


This essay is derived from a talk given for Humanity Rising, August 11, 2020

[1] See Betty Kovacs, Merchants of Light (Claremont: The Kamlak Center, 2019)

[2] This loss of the Holy Spirit was repeated at the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE when the Hebrew feminine noun for the Holy Spirit—ruach—was translated first into the Greek word pneuma which is genderless, and then into the Latin spiritus sanctus which is masculine. The Christian Trinity was rendered entirely masculine and the former feminine gender of the Holy Spirit was permanently lost to Christianity.

[3] The books of the Old Testament Scholar, Margaret Barker, give the facts of this story in detail.

[4] Genesis 2 & 3

[5] See Anne Baring, The Dream of the Cosmos, rev. ed. (UK: Archive Publishing, 2020), chapter 3.

[6] See my talks on Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, and Christianity on

[7] Carl G. Jung, Man and His Symbols (New York: Random House, 1986), p. 95

[8] By this, I mean women who are not taken over by the will to power.

About Anne Baring

Anne Baring b. 1931. MA Oxon. PhD in Wisdom Studies, Ubiquity University 2018. Jungian Analyst, author and co-author of 7 books including, with Jules Cashford, The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image; with Andrew Harvey, The Mystic Vision and The Divine Feminine; with Dr. Scilla Elworthy, Soul Power: an Agenda for a Conscious Humanity. Her most recent book, The Dream of the Cosmos: A Quest for the Soul (2013, updated and reprinted 2020), was awarded the Scientific and Medical Network Book Prize for 2013. The ground of all her work is a deep interest in the spiritual, mythological, shamanic, and artistic traditions of different cultures. Her website is devoted to the affirmation of a new vision of reality and the issues facing us at this crucial time of choice.

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