Shekhinah is Hebrew. It is She who DWELLS within. She holds the feminine attributes of God - She is the RECIPIENT of the LIGHT of the Higher Realms.
Shekhina, to me, is like the Earth based counterpart of Universal Shakti - let us EXPLORE Her vibration to emobdy Her Energy more and more fully!
Her night is SABBATH - Friday Eve to Saturday: The Sabbath is not only a day of rest, or of celebration and worship - it is suspension of cosmic business. All the negative judgements flowing into the creation are suspended, the Shekhinah is freed from the power of the malign shells, and she is able to turn towards her husband and embrace him. Blessings flow into the world, and each person celebrating the Sabbath is gifted with an additional soul. It is considered a sacred duty for a husband and wife to join the supernal Sabbath Bride and Groom in consumating their relationship at midnight on the Sabbath Eve.
The Feminine Face of God:
Unfolding the Sacred in Women
Bantam Books New York 1991
Sherry Ruth Anderson and Patricia Hopkins
Shekhinah. Shekhinah. The word simply popped into my mind like an uninvited guest and wouldn't go away. At times it seemed to disappear, but then it would come again, quietly, this strange word Shekhinah. It seemed to be waiting patiently for me to pay attention to it. After hearing it in my mind for three days I tried saying it out loud. "Shekhinah." It had an interesting sound. And when I said it, I felt a soft tug somewhere deep inside. I began to ask my friends if they knew what it meant. It sounded as if it could be Hebrew, but although I knew some Hebrew, it was not familiar to me. When my husband and friends were unable to help, I tried the library in our small town but found no answer there either. Shekhinah. Shekhinah. It was becoming more insistent now, demanding my attention. Still puzzling over what it could mean, I was sitting in my bedroom one morning when my friend Joan hurried through the door. She strode across the room and thrust a book into my hands.
"Let's try this," she said. I glanced down at the blue cover on which the word Kabbalah was written, and tumed to the index. Running my finger quickly down the S column, I read, "Shekhinah: the feminine face of God." The words sent shock waves rippling down my spine and goose flesh bristling on my bare arms because I realized at once that the Shekhinah was not an uninvited guest at all. She had been announced to me with great ceremony in a powerful dream a full month earlier. In the dream, I happily soar high above the clouds on a great golden dragon until I wonder, "Is this all there is?" The dragon immediately descends to earth, alighting at the side of a jewellike temple on a large body of water. I want to enter the temple, but I'm afraid to go in alone. I tum back to the dragon, hoping it will come and protect me. But this temple is human-sized and the dragon will not fit through the door. I begin to climb the stairs to the entrance anyway, and now I see a ferocious temple guardian with bulging eyes looming menacingly in the doorway. Black dogs snarl on either side of him. With uncharacteristic bravery I continue walking, and as I stride through the door the guardian and his dogs evaporate as if made of fog. Once I'm inside the doorway, an old man with long robes and a white beard emerges from an inner hallway to greet me. Without actually speaking, he lets me know that his name is Melchizedek. He is wearing a handsome dagger with a handle of turquoise and jade, and as soon as I notice this he presents me with a:matching dagger, indicating that I am to wear it on my right side. Then he motions me ahead of him. It is clear that he expects me to lead the way.
I step into a long hallway with a high ceiling and red tiles on the floor. Walking slowly, we eventually come to a pair of polished wooden doors at the end of the corridor. I open them silently and lead the way into a large, empty room. A plain wooden stage is set against the far wall. At the back of the stage is a built-in cabinet. I approach the cabinet and pull open the doors.
I am dumbfounded by what I see. Rolled onto finely carved wooden poles is the most sacred object in Judaism, the Torah. I leamed as a child that the Torah contains the five books of Moses written on parchment by an Orthodox scribe, and that if even one letter has been written incorrectly, the Torah cannot be used. I have never actually seen a Torah close up or held one, since these privileges were permitted only to men when I was growing up. But now I lift this Torah carefully out of its cabinet and cradle it to me tenderly as if it were a baby.
Then I notice something unusual. Instead of a mantle of velvet covering the scrolls, or a simple ribbon holding them closed, the Torah has been sealed shut by a dark round blot of red wax. I look at Melchizedek. "This is a very special Torah," he says. Pulling out his dagger, he breaks the seal and rolls open the scrolls. They are absolutely blank. "The Torah is empty," he says, "because what you need to know now is not written in any book. You already contain that knowledge. It is to be unfolded from within you."
"What is this Torah for?" I ask.
My question seems to set in motion the next sequence of events. Without speaking Melchizedek lifts the Torah and lightly places it inside my body, from my shoulders to my knees. I accept this gratefully, feeling my body as a sacred vessel.
At once, a great commotion breaks out behind us. Spinning around, I see that the room is now filled with long-bearded patriarchs wearing black coats and trousers. They're holding hands, laughing, singing and dancing jubilantly around the room. They pull me into their celebration. As I dance I seem to see Moses, King David and King Solomon, and Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They, too, are dressed in black coats and trousers, dancing with such heartfelt abandonment that I catch their joy and am filled with it. Ecstatically we whirl round and round the room, laughing.
Finally the dancing stops and I ask, "What is this all about?" Melchizedek answers, "We are celebrating because you, a woman, have consented to accept full spiritual responsibility in your life. This is your initiation as one who will serve the planet."
As I wonder what this means, he continues, "And you are not the only one. Many, many women are coming forward now to lead the way. "
"But who will be our teachers?" I protest.
"You will be teachers for each other. You will come together in circles and speak your truth to each other. The time has come for women to accept their spiritual responsibility for our planet."
"Will you help us?" I ask the assembled patriarchs.
"We are your brothers," they answer, and with that the entire room is flooded with an energy of indescribable kindness. I am absolutely confident in this moment that they are our brothers. I feel their love without any question. They say then, "We have initiated you and we give you our wholehearted blessings. But we no longer know the way. Our ways do not work anymore. You women must find a new way."
Excerpts from: Encountering the Shechinah, The Jewish Goddess Rabbi Leah Novick, from Nicholson, Shirley ed. 1983 The Goddess Re-Awakening 204-14.
She so pervades this lower world… that if you search in deed, thought and speculation, you will find Shechinah, for there is no beginning or end to her. Rabbi Joseph 13th-cent mystic
Traditional Jewish scholars have always insisted that the Shechinah is not a separate presence from the one God whom Jews worship. At the same time, they have given us a Shechinah literature replete with images, descriptions, and qualities of the most detailed and often anthropomorphic nature. This body of commentary, poetry, and prayer provides, in my view, a filtered but consistent memory of "God the Mother," and is the basis for the "Jewish Goddess." I say "Jewish Goddess" pointedly to distinguish her from the "Hebrew Goddess" that Professor Raphael Patai has documented so well namely the Canaanite Mother Goddess Asherah. The Bible itself tells us that the ancient Hebrews honored her until about 800 B.C.E. when King Josiah removed the Asherah from the Jerusalem temple and destroyed the outlying shrines. While her worship had been denounced repeatedly by the Prophets, they themselves chronicled consistent Jewish homage to Asherah or Astarte, Queen of Heaven.
The Shechinah is defined, in traditional Jewish writings, as the "female aspect of God" or the "presence" of the infinite God in the world. She is introduced in the early rabbinical commentaries as the "immanence" or "indwelling" of the living God, whose role as the animating life force of the earth is to balance the transcendent deity.
While she does not appear by name in the five books of Moses, the explicators of the Old Testament refer to her in interpreting the text. For example, when Moses encounters the burning bush, he is told to remove his shoes and prepare himself to receive the Shechinah. According to the rabbis, the choice of the simple thorn bush as the vehicle for the revelation was to emphasize the Shechinah's presence, since nothing in nature can exist without her. In Proverbs, we are introduced to the Divine Mother as Chochmah (Wisdom), who was present from the time of creation as the loving consort and coarchitect with the YHVH. In this Solomonic portrayal, she delights in humanity and provides us with her wise direction towards the path of truth and justice. (In this form, she is related to the Sophia of the Gnostics, who were influenced by Jewish thinking, and also included Hellenized Jews in their numbers.)
This association with humanity was emphasized by the Talmudists who saw her as suffering when human beings erred: "Acts of bloodshed, incest, perversion of justice and falsification of measures cause her to depart." They tell us: "Whoever is humble will ultimately cause the Shechinah to dwell upon earth. Whoever is haughty brings about the defilement of the Earth and the departure of the Shechinah." In the Talmudic view, actions harmful to other human beings or the earth cause the Shechinah to flee, and she rises upward to the Seven Heavens.' On the other side of the scale are the positive actions of humanity which attract her presence downward to the earth. The other way that the Shechinah is drawn downward is when people are in need of her as a comforting presence. The rabbis tell us she hovers at the bed of all sick individuals and is seen by the dying as they exit the world into the great light. According to tradition, the Shechinah comes to the good and true at death, giving them the opportunity to go straight up the center of the heavenly ladder in a moment of pure consciousness, into the merger with the Divine.
The Shechinah is intimately connected with expressions of human love, particularly romantic and marital bliss. It is she who blesses the happy couple; the glow of lovers is considered to be the reflection of her presence. The rabbis say: "When man and wife are worthy, the Shechinah abides in their midst. If they are unworthy, fire consumes them." Early Jewish mystics emphasized the splendor of the Shechinah, often envisioning her as God's glory. In their conception, she is the jewel or precious stone represented by the Torah, as the crowned bride of God. She is the luminous presence of the Divine, the great light who shines on all creatures.
Similar concepts are expressed in later Jewish writings, reflecting the continuity of the received oral teachings back to the early centuries of the common era. This received knowledge or "Kabbalah" was further developed by the twelfth and thirteenth-century German "Pietists" (also called Hasidists) and reached its zenith with the later Spanish and Safed Kabbalists. It was the latter group, living in a spiritual enclave in Northern Israel in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, who articulated the qualities of the divine female in considerable detail. Within the Kabbahstic system of "sephiroth" or emanations of divine energy (known to the readers as the "tree of Iffe" or "cosmic tree"), the ten sephiroth are equally balanced with one side of the tree representing female qualities and the other male qualities. Within this system or map of consciousness, Shechinah is most often identffied with Malchuth (which translates as "sovereignty") at the base of the cosmic tree, which to me represents the energy of the earth.
In the poetry of Rabbi Isaac Luri (the Ari), leader of the Safed Kabbalistic school, there are many phrases that describe Shechinah. The Ari's liturgical poems refer to her as the "Matronit…… holy ancient one, the old of days, the holy old one without eyes," and the "holy apple orchard" (the latter consistent with the teaching that to experience the Shechinah one needs oniy to enter an apple orchard in bloom). While the outdoor rituals and breathing practices used to induce visions of the Shechinah declined with the sacred community of Safed, the images of Shechinah as Shabbos Queen were passed on in the prayers for receiving the Sabbath, which are still used each week by Jews around the world. Because the Kabbalists were devoted to the reunification of the dyadic Godhead, all of their prayers began with blessings that invited both the YHVH and the Shechinah. This form, too, has been preserved and continues to be used.
Yet another contribution of the Safed school was its emphasis on spiritualized sexuality as a part of sacred practice (of course, within Jewish marital guidelines and family purity laws). Despite the fact that this was an all-male esoteric movement, the writings acknowledge female orgasm and recognize the persona of wife and mother as earthly representatives of Shechinah. The Baal Shem master-teacher of the seventeenth-century movement believed that the prayers of women ascended directly to God. He also acknowledged women's capacity for prophecy, and he attracted many female followers. In the early years when the movement was still quite radical, the openness to women's spiritual charisma resulted in the emergence of women " rebbes, " mostly daughters and wives of the great masters. Charisma is one of the blessings of Shechinah, according to the Talmud. Taking the teachings of Kabbalah and adapting them to community life in a more egalitarian way, Hasiduth restored the belief in each individual's ability to access the Shechinah and bring her back to earth through personal actions.
For women who must overcome the misogynistic text in order to get to the poetic metaphor, interpretation must come early in the study process. This is why Jewish women are writing new Midrash, expositions of the significance of biblical texts, to restore the Torah to both sexes as a meaningful source of sacred knowledge. Contemporary Jewish feminists have had to confront sexism in religious Iffe and language including the exclusion of women from the sacred professions. As a result of our activism, some important doors have opened in the last decade. Increasingly, we are now working on bringing forth our own images of the Divine and turning to the creation of new forms to nourish those who are ready for change.
In this process, the Shechinah that is emerging, especially in North America is a varied Goddess, indeed a Goddess with a thousand faces. For what is apparent in the workshops and conferences on Jewish feminism and in the New Moon groups (which are springing up spontaneously in many places) is that Jewish women carry the imprint and the images of the Goddess within them; in the traditional Shechinah and the earlier Canaanite and Middle Eastern forms. Because this generation is serving as the midwife for the rebirth of the Shechinah, we will have to be familiar with the ancient knowledge and traditional prayers which invoke her, at the same time that we are creating new forms. In this ancient/future subculture we will need poets and prophets, rebels and rabbis, musicians and mothers. What is clear is that we have the beginnings of a movement without a hierarchy, a central leader, or a single organization.
Excerpts from Wikipedia
The Talmud reports that the Shekinah is what caused prophets to prophesy and King David to compose his Psalms. The Shekinah manifests itself as a form of joy, connected with prophecy and creativity
Shekinah (alternative transliterations Shekinah, Shechinah, Shekina, Shechina, Schechinah, שכינה) is the English spelling of a grammatically feminine Hebrew word that means the dwelling or settling, and is used to denote the dwelling or settling divine presence of God, especially in the Temple in Jerusalem.
Shekinah is derived from the Hebrew verb שכן. In Biblical Hebrew the word means literally to settle, inhabit, or dwell, and is used frequently in the Hebrew Bible. (See Exodus 40:35, "Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting, for the cloud rested [shakhan] upon it, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle." See also e.g. Genesis 9:27, 14:13, Psalms 37:3, Jeremiah 33:16), as well as the weekly Shabbat blessing recited in the Temple in Jerusalem ("May He who causes His name to dwell [shochan] in this House, cause to dwell among you love and brotherliness, peace and friendship"). In Mishnaic Hebrew the noun is often used to refer to birds' nesting and nests. ("Every bird nests [shekhinot] with its kind, and man with its like, Talmud Baba Kammah 92b.) and can also mean "neighbor" ("If a neighbor and a scholar, the scholar is preferred" Talmud Ketubot 85b).
The word for Tabernacle, mishkan, is a derivative of the same root and is used in the sense of dwelling-place in the Bible, e.g. Psalm 132:5 ("Before I find a place for God, mishkanot (dwelling-places) for the Strong One of Israel.")
Accordingly, in classicJewish thought, the Shekhinah refers to a dwelling or settling in a special sense, a dwelling or settling of divine presence, to the effect that, while in proximity to the Shekhinah, the connection to God is more readily perceivable.
Malkuth or Shekhinah
the Female Spirit of God
named also Gaia
PLANÈTE BLEUE ( BLUE PLANET ) - 2003
The Shekhinah is a Talmudic concept representing God's dwelling and immanence in the created world.
It is through the Shekhinah that humans can experience the Divine.
The passivity of the Shekhinah is often emphasized (equated with its femininity), as the recipient of forces from the higher Sefirot.
The Shekhinah is often portrayed as a bride or princess whose male lover is the composite of the nine upper sefirot, represented by the prince/bridegroom Tiferet.
In Kabbalah the Shekhinah is the archetype of the divine female, characterised by the epithets Mother, Sister, Daughter, Beloved, Bride and Queen. According to the sefirotic system of the Tree of Life the Shekhinah is associated with the sefira Malkhut.
Prior to the medieval period Shekhinah (resting, dwelling) meant simply God's immanent presence in the world. According to aggadic tradition Shekhinah was originally fully manifest in the world, but the disobedience of Adam and Eve ruptured the flow of divine energy and the Shekhinah withdrew. The Biblical patriarchs caused a partial descent of the Shekhinah - it was pictured as riding on their backs - but it was not until the time of Moses and the Covenant between God and the Jewish people that the Shekhinah had a home in this world, resting between the two Cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant. The Shekhinah accompanied the Jewish people on their journeys, and found a permanent home with the building of the First (Solomonic) Temple. From the Kabbalistic period onward the Shekhinah is depicted as being in exile with the Jewish people. Sometimes she is identified with Rachel weeping for her children (Jeremiah 31:15), and with the black-clad figure of Mother Zion.
During the early medieval period the Shekhinah was treated as identical with the divine Glory, an imminent, outward-facing aspect of God (in the sense of "The whole world is filled with his Glory"). However, there was still no sense of an internal relationship between aspects of God and the Shekhinah. It is in the Bahir that God and the Shekhinah appear in relationship, usually in the form of allegories concerning a king and his daughter. The evolution of the concept of God's immanent presence in the world towards a full-blown quasi-autonomous hypostasis within the divine pleroma is one of the most distinctive features of medieval Kabbalah.
The Kabbalistic traditions concerning the Shekhinah are complex and multi-faceted, and because they interconnect at so many points, they are difficult to dissect. However three key themes stand out:
The Tree of Life is a progressive emanation of divine being through ten emanations or sefirot. In traditional sources these emanations are represented as the active potencies of the names of God. The Tree of Life provides a template of energies and internal relationships that form the basis for the rest of the creation, usually represented in the form of Four Worlds. Malkhut is the final and tenth emanation in the Tree, and as such, is the interface between the dynamic energies of the Tree and the rest of creation.
It is necessary to understand the internal dynamics of the Tree to understand the role of Malkhut. A key insight is that the Tree is a dynamic between two kinds of manifestation, both of which are positive when properly balanced, and both of which are negative when unbalanced. These manifestations are Judgement (setting boundaries, defining limits, holding back, punishing wrongdoing) and Mercy/Loving-Kindness (blessings, love, grace, giving, abundance). Traditionally Judgement is regarded as the more instrinsically negative of the two, although, as is often pointed out, an excess of Mercy is a sanction for wrongdoing and evil.
Malkhut is represented as the full manifestation of these two tendencies, and so regulates the flow of divine energy to the rest of creation. The key influence is human behaviour. When human beings neglect their spiritual obligations, the positive aspect of Malkhut is diminished and so a flow of Judgement is channeled into the creation. When human beings are kind and charitable and cognisant of the divine within, the opposite occurs and divine blessings and abundance flow into the creation. The character of Malkhut is, to an extent, determined by the moral and spiritual character of human beings.
In traditional literature this reciprocal relationship is used to explain historical events, such as the destruction of the Temple, and the Exile. On occasions when the conduct of human beings has been very bad, Malkhut has been drawn into the influence of the realm of the evil shells (unbalanced forces left over from the first failed attempts to manifest a stable configuration of sefirot) and the energy of Malkhut has then become demonically destructive. In this condition the Shekhinah is depicted as wearing the black clothes of Lilith, the evil demonic counterpart of the Shekhinah.
Many sources discuss two Shekhinahs. This derives in part from the creation story of Genesis in which God divides the firmament into an upper firmament and a lower firmament. These are the waters above, and the waters below. In terms of the Tree of Life, the waters above refer to the sefira Binah, and the waters below to the sefira Malkhut. The waters flow from the great sea of Binah through the channels and emerge inMalkhut, often depicted as a spring of pure water (e.g. Be'ersheva, the "well of seven", referring to the seven sefirot flowing into Malkhut). Both sefirot share the epithet "Mother": Binah is the superior Mother, andMalkhut the inferior (not in the derogatory sense) Mother. Sometimes Binah is called the "mother of form". Binah contains all the preconditions necessary for form. According to this viewpoint, Malkhut is the realisation, the completion of a process in which form becomes manifest.
In the system of divine archetypes known as Partzufim, the Shekhinah is the partzuf known as Nukva Ze'ir (literally, "the woman of Ze'ir Anpin"). The primary source for this imagery is the Song of Songs, as extensively interpreted by the Zohar. In a dynamic that parallels the Tree of Life, a divine pleroma is depicted as comprised of five partzuf or archetypes that comprise a divine family of Patriarch, Father, Mother, Son (and King), Daughter (and Bride and Queen). The quaternary of Father, Mother, Son and Daughter are employed to illustrate the internal dynamics of the divine name of four letters, the Tetragrammaton.
The central dynamic is that of the King and Queen (who are also Son and Daughter). When they face each other in divine conjunctio, all the channels open and blessings (often depicted as a flow of pure spring water) flow into the world. When they turn away from each other the powers of evil are able to gain ingress. Samael, prince of evil, attempts intercourse with Nukvaand she then becomes Lilith, his evil consort. At this time the Shekhinah is filled with darkness and terrible judgements flow into the world.
Reminds me of the four Elements - and the fifth element, Ether - SPIRIT!]
Enter in peace O crown of her husband
Even in gladness and good cheer
Among the faithful of the treasured nation
Enter O Bride, enter O Bride.
Among the faithful of the treasured nation
Enter O Bride, the Sabbath Queen.
Every Friday evening, the eve of the Sabbath, millions of Jews worldwide welcome the Sabbath Queen into synagogues and personal dwellings. The Shekhinah, the divine Glory and Holy Presence is welcomed in her dual aspect as Queen (Malkah) and Bride (Kallah). As Queen she is a stately presence, as Bride she is the centre of celebration and rejoicing. The verses above are from the final stanza of the Lekha Dodi, a song to welcome the Sabbath Queen composed in the sixteenth century by Solomon Alkabetz, teacher and brother-in-law of the great Kabbalist Moses Cordovero.
The Zohar is effusive in its praise of the Sabbath, saying "The Sabbath is equal in worth to the whole of the Torah, and whoever observes the Sabbath is like someone who observes the complete Torah." With regard to the preparations for the Sabbath Queen it observes:
One must prepare a comfortable seat with several cushions and embroidered covers, from all that is found in the house, like one who prepares a canopy for a bride. For the Sabbath is a queen and a bride. This is why the masters of the Mishna used to go out on the eve of Sabbath to receive her on the road, and used to say: 'Come, O bride, come, O bride!' And one must sing and rejoice at the table in her honor ... one must receive the Lady with many lighted candles, many enjoyments, beautiful clothes, and a house embellished with many fine appointments ...
The Sabbath is not only a day of rest, or of celebration and worship - it is suspension of cosmic business. All the negative judgements flowing into the creation are suspended, the Shekhinah is freed from the power of themalign shells, and she is able to turn towards her husband and embrace him. Blessings flow into the world, and each person celebrating the Sabbath is gifted with an additional soul. It is considered a sacred duty for a husband and wife to join the supernal Sabbath Bride and Groom in consumating their relationship at midnight on the Sabbath Eve.
Thank you dear Goddess Daphne :-)