Changing Church: Rev. Alice D. Martin, Healing Priestess, San Francisco, California

Rev. Alice D. Martin (photo by Viva van Assen http://www.vanviva.com)

Creating ways to allow a greater number of people access or a means to connect to the Feminine Divine and validate the Feminine Divine within each of us will consequently bring about a shift of consciousness to tolerance, social justice, and respect for the earth and her resources. In my opinion, it is already happening, but the stranglehold that patriarchy has on world power is tough to overcome.

Rev. Alice D. Martin writes these powerful words about the transformation that takes place through the inclusion of the Divine Feminine. Through her creative, healing ministry Rev. Martin contributes to this change in the church and the wider culture.

At Ebenezer/herchurch Lutheran (www.herchurch.org), Alice finds inspiration to grow and to use her creative gifts. “I feel that what I do at herchurch, and indeed in most of my spiritual practice, is to reclaim what has been suppressed and/or forgotten,” she comments. “Worship of the Feminine Divine was very much prevalent for 35,000 years or so before Christianity emerged. A lot of the symbols and language used by the early Gnostic Christians, and even by the ancient Israelites, included the Feminine Divine. But as patriarchy fully took over, the inclusive and enlightening language was re-shaped and/or changed.”

Alice grew up in the Catholic Church until at the age of fourteen she “renounced Christianity.” She explains: “Because of the hypocritical nature of the church and its violent history, I grew despondent and wary of the preaching from the male clergy.” But she continued to find “the gospels of the New Testament inspiring.” The inclusivity, tolerance, and forgiveness she found in Jesus’ preaching and parables “resonated and spoke truth” to her. “As I got older, I remembered and admired those things about the Bible, while wanting nothing to do with a Christian church.”

Four years ago Alice started feeling drawn to images of Mother Mary. “I didn’t understand this as I felt I wasn’t a part of the Christian religion anymore, but as things in my life became rougher I felt a yearning for a Mother image,” she continues. “Most of the time, I would ignore this calling, but every once in a while I would pause by a statue of Mary or pay more attention to Goddess imagery and information that came my way. When things got worse for me, I would have mental image pictures pop up of the Mother holding me for comfort and healing.”

Alice describes her healing from an “emotional breakdown” through images of the Divine Feminine in her meditation and through finding Ebenezer/herchurch Lutheran. “Images of the Feminine Divine grew stronger, and finally I went to a Goddess Rosary at herchurch. When I walked into the sanctuary for the first time, I could immediately feel a presence of ‘mother’ energy that was warm, nurturing, compassionate and healing. Soon after that, I started attending herchurch on a regular basis and became an involved council member. Herchurch has been critical in providing me a place of worship of the Feminine Divine that still has a familiar structure of Christianity without the patriarchal baggage.”

Her healing from the “emotional breakdown” began a “spiritual emergence,” Alice notes, that resulted in her completion of a two-year program at a meditation and healing school. The school included a ministers’ workshop, as well as meditation workshops, that led to her ordination as a minister. Rev. Alice D. Martin became an “intuitive healer” as she “learned not only to heal” herself but also to “help facilitate the healing of others.” Rev. Martin is planning to pursue an MA in Philosophy and Religion with an emphasis in Women’s Spirituality at California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), and is considering going on to earn a PhD degree. Her undergraduate work at CIIS has revealed that her “life path could lead” to being a “teacher and healer in the area of social justice.”

Rev. Martin finds deep reward in contributing her creative talents and healing gifts to the church and beyond. At Ebenezer/herchurch Lutheran she brings creative energy to worship services through taking part in the drumming circle. “When I use my gifts and talents to help enhance the experience and growth of herchurch, there is a powerful sense of accomplishment and being a part of something bigger than myself,” she says. “Also, when I perform a healing and I see the immediate shift in energy for that person. In a direct way, helping others heal themselves also helps heal me and gives me new insight to my connection with the universe.”

While she knows that her healing ministry will take her to places and people not open to the Divine Feminine, Alice celebrates the inclusion of the Divine Feminine in worship services she now experiences at Ebenezer/herchurch Lutheran. “Although I feel I am in a cozy spot for my current practice, I know that eventually my life path will take me to places where openly worshiping the Feminine Divine is an anathema.”

Recently Alice wrote a critical essay on the systematic oppression and controlling of the Feminine Divine by patriarchal economic, religious, and social institutions. “When patriarchy was gaining a foothold, about five thousand years ago, there was resistance and rebellion in taking away the Mother Goddess,” she states. “The image of the Feminine Divine seems so ingrained in humanity, that even under the most brutal conditions of oppression she still manifests somehow in our collective consciousness. This is why Mother Mary, in the Christian religion, is so revered. It is a way to access Mother Goddess while under the thumb of patriarchy.”

Including the Divine Feminine in church will change the wider culture, Rev. Martin asserts. “Because the Feminine Divine is oppressed in this world, feminine energy—with traits of compassion, nurturing, creating, and community—is oppressed. Therefore everyone, including straight white men, suffers to some degree. Creating ways to allow a greater number of people access or a means to connect to the Feminine Divine and validate the Feminine Divine within each of us will consequently bring about a shift of consciousness to tolerance, social justice, and respect for the earth and her resources. In my opinion, it is already happening, but the stranglehold that patriarchy has on world power is tough to overcome.”

Multicultural Feminine Divine names and images in worship also help everyone connect to the Divine, Rev. Martin continues. “I feel that a wider variety of divine symbols and names gives a greater access to people when the traditional names do not feel appropriate for them. Exposing people to a multitude of images gives them a choice and a way to connect to the Feminine Divine that feels appropriate for them. It also helps in bringing up a dialog of diversity and understanding of different cultures. It is part of the inclusiveness trait that is inherently connected to opening oneself to the Feminine Divine and validating the feminine energy that runs through each of us.” Including multicultural female divine imagery in church offers people expanded symbolism, giving “them a deeper understanding of the divinity within themselves and around them.”

Among the Divine Feminine names Rev. Martin cites that resonate with her are these:

• Mother God—The word “God” has a lot of masculine energy around it with some oppressive connotations to it. Having the word “Mother” in front of “God,” reclaims her role as creator while tempering and honoring the Masculine Divine. 
• Gaia—This is Mother Earth. Bringing this name into the mix, I feel, helps us remember she who physically nourishes us and helps us to thrive.
• Grandmother—I feel we need, as a society and spiritually, to relearn our respect for the Crone. The image of the Crone or Wise Woman has been severely damaged ever since the start of the witch burnings in the 15th century. The Crone has much wisdom and gifts/talents to share with us. We miss out on extreme healing and learning opportunities when we belittle her as too old and addled or evil and conniving.
 

Rev. Martin acknowledges that she will face resistance to her expansive, inclusive spirituality. “As I continue my studies and take advantage of opportunities (like this interview) to talk about the importance of validating and honoring the Feminine Divine, I know I will come up against resistance and intolerance. There are many spiritual leaders who are taking risks that are helping to lay down a stronger foundation for whatever risks and inroads I make in the future. Right now, I am in a place gratitude and acknowledgement for those who have taken up the challenges of bringing the Feminine Divine into the church.”

By providing a model for bringing the Feminine Divine into the church, Ebenezer/herchurch Lutheran gives Alice a faith community conducive to her spiritual exploration and growth as a minister. “The current church that I am associated with provides structured Christian framework that is fluid and open enough to allow me to explore my faith and grow in ways that are appropriate for me,” she says. “Faith-wise, herchurch is my home. I think it is a model for allowing multicultural images of the Feminine Divine while keeping, what I consider, the best of Christian traditions, whether reclaimed from the Gnostics or highlighted from the Lutheran tradition. Herchurch is an incredibly nurturing environment that encourages exploration of the Feminine Divine at your own pace and in a way that is appropriate for you. When I do begin to branch out as teacher/healer/preacher, I hope to embody this same type of philosophy in my future interactions. My part right now has been to add my ability as an intuitive healer to our congregation. My hope is to help expand the self-awareness of others and provide access to another approach to healing and self-empowerment.”

Strength and inspiration for her ministry also come from Alice’s training at the meditation school, where she learned to “ground, center, and validate” herself. “It sounds a bit simple, but feeling my connection to the planet and validating my permission to be here helped to give me access to the presence of the Feminine Divine, which in turns gives me greater strength and nurturing,” she continues. “It is hard to accept and feel love and strength, when you don’t love yourself and feel you will fail. Going inward and being fully present with whatever is going on in the moment helps give me access to the Divine so that I can seize inspiration and opportunities that may not be present otherwise.”

Rev. Martin articulates an expansive, hopeful vision for the future of the Divine Feminine. “In my spiritual experience, Mother is the creator and source. And while I don’t think that the Feminine Divine is greater than the Masculine, I would like to envision more of an emphasis placed on the Feminine Divine to help heal and bring greater awareness to compassion, forgiveness and non-judgment. The Feminine and Masculine Divine together equal our existence and our ability to evolve. They are Yin/Yang; one cannot exist without the other, and there is always a striving for balance. Right now in this age, we are out of balance with too much masculine energy (patriarchy); placing emphasis on the Feminine Divine will help bring our collective spiritual growth more into balance.”

Rev. Alice D. Martin continues to contribute her creative, healing gifts to making this vision a reality. You can find more information about Rev. Martin’s healing ministry on her website: www.herhealing.net.

 

 

 

 

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3 Comments

  1. Dr. Sarah Gordon
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    I like especially her emphasis on the value of the crone figure!

  2. Dawn Kceul
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Oh my god. I love this and I am so proud of you, Alice! This just validates that message I received for us. Wow.

  3. Posted January 16, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Nice!! This was taken in part for the “Birthing God” book when I thought I was going to be self-publishing! (And you kept on encouraging me to knock on those publishing doors! This beautiful photo of Alice is by Viva Van Assen.

One Trackback

  1. By A Healing Priestess, ‘Changing Church’ on January 21, 2013 at 9:13 am

    [...] or to prestigious denominational jobs, and often even loss of their jobs.”A recent profile is of Rev. Alice Martin, Healing Priestess at Ebenezer/herchurch in San Francisco.  I first met Alice several years ago [...]

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