Thursday, October 9, 2014

Spiritual Experience in Non-Mainstream Judaism

This non-mainstream Jewish Rabbi interprets "Shechinah" as a female aspect of deity.  She describes her spiritual experiences with Shechinah.

"In workshops on Shechinah that I have conducted during the last few years, I find that men and women, Jews and non-Jews, carry concepts, feelings, and images of the Shechinah within them.  Again, in most people experience precedes naming the energy or having a knowledge of her characteristics as presented or expressed in the Jewish sacred literature.  Interestingly enough, when we share these experiences, we find that individuals 'know' or uncover most of the traditional characteristics of Shechinah on their own.  The most common experiences are of light and radiance, which is consistent with the writings of many Jewish scholars who describe her as a great light which shines upon all God's creatures.  Many writers consider her the light of creation itself or the place of the primordial light.
Some people's experience of Shechinah involves hearing a voice or feeling a great warmth.  For myself she is most present on Friday nights after I light the Shabbat candles; that is when I hear her speaking to me.  At other times I feel she is present when I begin composing songs with words that address issues or people I care about.  During these times, usually in the forest or at the ocean, a great sense of joy overcomes me, and all ordinary problems fade alongside the bliss I feel.  On other occasions I have experienced myself falling into a great soft whiteness that is her embrace, as if all the down feathers in the world were in a single pile waiting for me to fall into them.  My favorite image came when I saw her 'dressed' in stars and the planets.  Her size was beyond imagination, and her celestial 'diadem' was made up of the heavens.  I was overwhelmed."

-Rabbi Léah Novick, "Encountering the Schechinah, the Jewish Goddess", from the book "The Goddess Re-Awakening: The Feminine Principle Today", edited by Shirley Nicholson, p. 211-212

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