Saint Deborah and The Divine Feminine and Me

The Retablo of Saint Deborah by Theresa Montoya

I knew I wanted one of the retablo’s painted by Theresa Montoya when we went into her gallery in Chimayo, NM and I saw them all hanging on the wall.

I’m not usually interested in Christian saints, growing up Catholic I turned away from the church, it’s symbols and stories when I was a teenager.

But I’ve come to see the saints similar to the Goddesses that now speak to me.  Their stories geared to individual awareness and healing.  Also I love the way Theresa’s paints.  The simplicity and straightforwardness of the images.  Not trying to be anything but what it is.

I didn’t know who Deborah was when I found her.  I chose her because her belly was showing, not something I’m used to seeing in paintings of Saints.

One of the books I took on the trip to New Mexico was Sue Monk Kidd’s The Dance of the Dissident Daughter.  It tells Kidd’s story of awaking to  the damaging effects on women  of the patriarchal attitudes and  dogma in the Bible and other religious writings in the Christian Church.

It’s the story of how she finds the Divine Feminine in herself. How she changes her life and career from being a Christian religious writer to a novelist with strong women characters who struggle, but are never victims.

The third night in Chimayo  I dreamed that I was holding a pink rock against my face. It felt so soft and smooth I kept rubbing it on my face.

The next morning I found a picture of a rock that looked like the one in my dream.  It turned out to be Feldspar. I read further about its symbolic meaning…

“The mineral feldspar provides you feminine, moon and Goddess energy.  It helps in honoring yourself as a woman, honoring your sexuality and ability to create new life.  You are valued as yourself not as an extension of someone else.” (Crystal Healing website)

When I found Deborah at Theresa’s Gallery I knew she was right for me, but I didn’t know why.  Like my dream of the rock, I looked up her story and saw that she was a judge and a warrior, a prophet of the Israelite’s.   (The palm leaf she holding represents the palm tree she stood under when making judgements and the sword tells us she is a warrior.)  God came to her and told her to lead an army to attack the King of Canaan who was oppressing the Israelite’s.

Another woman Jael, killed Sisera, the leader of the Canaan’s army by driving a tent spike through his head.

I found the story on Wikipedia, it was pretty straight forward.  But as I continued reading some of the religious writings about Deborah and Jael they were filled with questions and contradictions about their roles as a women. How  God was surely on Deborah’s  side because a woman couldn’t have done such a thing on her own. And how it seen as especially damning that “The mighty Canaanite general Sisera will be ‘sold’ by the Lord ‘into the hand of a woman’ ” 

In this one story I saw so much evidence of just what Sue Monk Kidd was writing about.  How even these heroic women, who lead armies into battle are diminished and  have their power taken away by the men writing their stories.

My own personal story to find the Divine Feminine in myself has been a long time coming.  I see it in Kidd’s writing, not in the details, but in the structure.

And now I’m beginning to see that it started when I first lived in Taos New Mexico 16 years ago.  That while there something  awakened in me.

Somehow, I feel closer to the earth there and I believe that  sparked and shifted something inside of me. It began the process of me coming home to my real self.  Of cutting thought the muck and detritus of years of  self-hatred, insecurities, shame and hiding.  I experienced in the landscape of the desert the openness, the bared soul of the earth.

And I wanted it for myself.

On this trip to Northern New Mexico, I met the earth with my own new nakedness.  And through my dreams, art and nature, she handed me the gift of awakening even further into my own feminine power.  The power to create and bring my ideas and beliefs about  the truth of myself as a woman that has been buried and hidden inside of me for so long.




7 thoughts on “Saint Deborah and The Divine Feminine and Me

  1. I love reading Sue Monk Kidd. I have read “Traveling with Pomegranates” (written with her daughter Tracy) at least 3 times and listened to it read by the author. She talks a lot about the Greek goddesses and there is something new I learn, or relearn since I’ve forgotten it, every time I read it. I can’t quite explain it.

    1. Deborah, I find that sometimes I can’t hold information that’s important to me. Like I’m not ready for it yet or it’s such a new idea I have a hard time processing it. I haven’t read Traveling with Pomegranates yet, but now I want to.

  2. Hi Maria, What you wrote about the stories of biblical women being co-opted and diminished struck a chord with me and reminded me of another writer I follow, Ronna Detrick. Ronna writes a weekly re-telling of the stories of biblical women that I enjoy immensely and I think you might, too. Here’s a link to her page: Enjoy, and hurray for your journey!

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