YOGA

When unconscious became conscious this is Samadhi

Mother Mary – Shekinah’s incarnation November 28, 2010


Shekinah: The Presence of Divinity
by Rev. Mark Raines

Shekinah – also spelled Shekhina, Shekhinah, Shekina, and Shechina – is known in the Qabalah, an ancient form of Jewish mysticism, as one of the emanations of God and the actual Presence of God. The belief was that one could not see God in Its fullness, but could see the emanation of God, Shekinah. When Moses asked to see God, it was Shekinah that he saw. Shekinah is also the consort, or Bride, of God. As such, she is Mother to us all, just as God is our Father.

In earlier times, God was seen as either dwelling in the clouds or in high places like mountains or very high hills. With the construction of the Ark of the Covenant, and then the construction of the Temple, a part of the Godhead came to dwell in the Ark and then in the Temple. This could not be the male God, the God of the Sky and of High Places. So Shekinah, formerly known as Asherah, a Goddess of Earth and Sea, came to dwell in the Ark of the Covenant and then in the Temple.

Originally it was Asherah who dwelled in the Temple as the Bride of God, His representative there. But after the “reforms” of King Josiah, Asherah worship was forbidden in the Temple. Still, the Jews knew that their Lady was still living there as their Queen and the representative of El, their God. So Asherah evolved. She began to be seen as the presence of God, and less as a separate entity. She became Shekinah, which means something like She who dwells (from the Hebrew shakhan, which means the act of dwelling). However, Asherah did not really change. She was always the representative of Her Husband, just as He was always HER representative. She, an Earth Goddess, was also Queen of Heaven. He, as Sky God, was also Ruler of Earth. This occurred only through Their marriage. So, it was not really that Asherah worship ever changed much within Judaism, or that Asherah Herself changed; only, it was made to look like it had changed to fool the patriarchal priests.

Unfortunately, Shekinah has been all but lost to Christianity. Elements of Her remain in Mother Mary, who was perhaps Shekinah’s incarnation. Mary Theotokos, as She is called, actually held the presence of God (Yeshua) within Her. She is known as the Queen of Heaven, but she is the representative of God to us and delivers our prayers to Him, according to Catholic tradition. Her apparitions are much more frequent than the apparitions of Yeshua, and the Father never appears. It seems that She is truly His representative to us, because (as we know) She is His Bride.

The union of Shekinah and El was never more evident than in the Sabbath. She is known as the Sabbath Bride, or the Sabbath Queen. Each week on the Sabbath, God and Goddess, El and Shekinah, act out the Song of Songs. One rabbi called that holy book the “Holy of Holies” of the Bible! Now take a look at this passage from the Zohar (the holy book of the Qabalah), called the Secret of the Sabbath, which tells us all about the Sabbath Queen:

THE SECRET OF SABBATH

The Secret of Sabbath:
She is Sabbath!
United in the secret of One
to draw down upon Her
the secret of One.

The prayer for the entrance of Sabbath:

The holy Throne of Glory is united in the secret of One,
prepared for the High Holy King to rest upon Her.
When Sabbath enters She is alone,
separated from the Other Side,
all judgments removed from Her.
Basking in the oneness of holy light,
She is crowned over and over to face the Holy King.
All powers of wrath and masters of judgment flee from Her.
Her face shines with a light from beyond;
She is crowned below by the holy people,
and all of them are crowned with new souls.
Then the beginning of prayer to bless Her with joy and beaming faces:
Barekbu ET YHVH ha-Mevorakh,
“Bless ET YHVH, the-Blessed One,”
ET YHVH, blessing Her first.

(*ET-YHVH is another name for ‘Shekinah’ (the feminine Divine Presence). In the Kabbalah, ET stands for Aleph to Tav, like our Alpha to Omega, or A to Z. Here ET refers to the song itself as the ultimate speech, hymn or prayer. According to the notes of Daniel Chanan Matt’s translation, this passage from the ZOHAR is recited in the Sephardic liturgy on Sabbath Eve.)

Sources:
1. Shekhina, from Encyclopedia Mythica
2. Wisdom of Shekinah, by WOW Institute (no longer on line)
3. The Secret of Sabbath From the Zohar, ancient Kabbalistic inspired writings — zohar.com. Daniel Chanan Matt also uses this verse in his book Zohar, the Book of Enlightenment

 

10 Things Religious Pundits Need To Know About Gnosticism November 7, 2008


by Jordan Stratford
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

1) Gnosticism is not a heretical sect of Christianity

Gnosticism is a distinct, pre-Christian religion. Its roots are in
Alexandria in Egypt, about 2200 years ago, where a “café-society” of
Greek-speaking and -educated Jews were syncretizing the myths of the
ancient world with Judaism and classical Greek philosophy.

These communities and their ideas greatly influenced Christianity as
it later emerged. As Christianity struggled in its first four
centuries to distinguish itself from the pagan world, it slowly began
to reject some of these Gnostic influences. But most of the people
who still favored these ideas considered themselves devout
Christians, not heretics.

Let us not forget that the most common topic in the New Testament –
more common than the power of love or redemption or the sacrifice of
the cross or even the divinity of Jesus – is that “other Christians
are getting it wrong”. Paul condemns James as a heretic. Jesus refers
to Peter as “Satan”.

2) Gnosticism is a lot like Buddhism

Because of Gnosticism’s insistence on personal responsibility and
ethics, its emphasis on singular prayer, the practice of compassion,
detachment from materialism and the striving for enlightenment, it
has been called “the Buddhism of the West”. The similarities between
Gnosticism and Mahayana Buddhism are so strong it has been speculated
that there may have been ongoing contact between the two religions.

3) The Gnostic Scriptures are, for the most part, contemporary with
Christian canon

None of the four canonical Gospels were written in the first century.
Mark was not written by Mark, nor Luke written by Luke. John was
written in two distinct phases, the first of which showed significant
Gnostic elements, and the latter a retraction and condemnation of
those elements. These were based on first century oral traditions
which varied greatly from region to region, but did not exist in
written form until at least 100 years after the events they describe.
Paul is the only first century Christian writer we have, and much of
his writings were edited centuries later into the form we have today.

The Gospel of Thomas, for example, is contemporary with the later
half of John, and there is some evidence to support that John’s later
editors were familiar with Thomas. The scriptural authors of the
second century were reaching for meaning, using their interpretation
what they had heard, their intuition, their creativity, and their
yearning for God.

4) Gnostics do not hate the physical world

Gnostic scripture frequently invokes favorably the beauty and power
of the natural world; the symbolism of pregnancy, midwifery,
childbirth, newborns, storms and ripe crops are frequently employed
by Gnostic authors. Gnostics do not view the flesh as evil, but
rather as temporary when contrasted with the immortality of the soul –
a view shared by most if not all Christians.

What Gnostics reject is not the earth, but they system: the
artificial world of injustice, prejudice, institutionalization and
materialism.

5) Gnostics do not repudiate salvation through Grace

The role of Grace, and of the Holy Spirit, is of paramount importance
to the Gnostics. Where Gnosticism differs from Christianity is that
Gnosticism says that “blind faith” does not grant salvation. To be
saved from the forces of deception and ignorance (maya in Buddhist
parlance) one must attain enlightenment: the direct experiential
intimacy with G@d that is gnosis. This experience is the birthright
of every aware human person.

6) Gnosticism is not elitist

Do Christians distinguish between the saved and the unsaved? Is this
elitism? Gnostic teachings frequently reinforce the idea that
liberation via gnosis is available to everyone; that such distinction
is a matter of reclaiming birthright, of intent, choice, and effort.
In fact, Gnostic theology tends to support the idea of apokatastasis,
of universal salvation.

7) Gnosticism is not Utopian.

There is nothing in Gnostic scripture to support the idea that
Gnostics wish to make “heaven on earth” from human efforts, and no
connection whatsoever between Gnosticism and the reshaping of
society; neither from fascism nor socialism. There is
no “immanentizing the eschaton” in Gnosticism: Rather, this idea is
the hallmark of millennialist Christianity.

8 ) Most basic tenets of Gnosticism are supported by Christian
scripture

In fact there is a litany of Christian saints who are blatantly
Gnostic; St. Francis of Assisi, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the
Cross, St. Hildegard of Bingen and St. Joan of Arc all described in
detail the integrity of their experience of gnosis.

Paul says “The Kingdom of God is within you” which is probably the
best single summation of Gnostic theology. Jesus says “My kingdom is
not of this world” (Jn 18:36).

9) Gnosticism serves as a bridge between world religions

Gnosticism stands at the crossroads of Judaism, Christianity, and
Islam, representing a common ground. Historically Gnosticism
influenced Judaism in the development of Kabala, and Islam in the
development of Sufism; it both encouraged and challenged Christianity
through its early centuries and contributed profoundly to Christian
theology and identity.

10) Gnostic churches are thriving

Gnostics across North America and Europe gather weekly for prayer and
Eucharist in forms very similar to orthodox liturgy. We derive
inspiration from the Old and New Testaments, and also from Nag
Hammadi scripture such as The Gospel of Thomas and The Thunder:
Perfect Mind. A vital and growing Gnostic ekklesia is serving in
charities, missions and hospitals; writing, crafting, debating and
working in coffeehouses and dozens of parishes around the world. Most
Gnostics consider themselves Christian, their churches constituting
the Body of Christ. Other Gnostics gravitate to the symbolism and
traditions of the Divine Feminine in her aspect as Sophia (“wisdom”),
the Shekhina (“presence”) , and the Holy Spirit.

Despite book-burnings, despite the Albigensian Crusade and the
Inquisition, despite schlock-populism, and despite inane castigations
from self-appointed pundits, we are still here; still praying,
celebrating, exploring, and asking. Still Knowing.

 

 
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