Shekhinah: Energy of the Divine Feminine
When we hear the name “G-d,” many of us pull up an image of an old dude with a long, white beard. But that image doesn’t accurately reflect a Jewish understanding of the Divine. In fact, Jewish tradition doesn't think of the Divine as embodying any physical form, and certainly not as confined to a gendered body.
That said, the Hebrew language itself is gendered. Often, you’ll find references to the Divine in the male form. But there are quite a few names for this force, names that include “Oneness,” “Energy,” and “Divine Light.” Among Hebrew’s many names of for the Divine is Shekhinah, which means “to dwell within.”
Shekhinah takes female pronouns and offers many unique images of the Divine that evoke traditionally female-gendered characteristics. It is said that the Shekhinah “dwelt in” the Holy Temple in Jerusalem in days of our ancestors. Since the Temple’s destruction, Shekhinah spirit now dwells amongst the Jewish people in diaspora. The Shekhinah’s presence is also connected to other female-gendered aspects of the Divine, including Mother Earth, the Sabbath Queen, and definitely the guiding light of the moon.
During this month of Iyar, which asks us to heal from the inside out, make a point of recognizing the Shekhinah dwelling inside you. Remember that Badass For Light we talked about earlier? That’s her.
Want to know more? We bet!
At The Well recommends starting with On the Wings of Shekhinah, written by Leah Novick, the first female rabbi ordained in the Jewish Renewal Movement. Rabbi Novick spent her adult life scouring ancient Jewish texts for any mention of female-gendered aspects of the Divine; she was that committed to surfacing women’s innate and explosive power. Talk about a modern day Matriarch.