Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Episode 23: Every 3rd Sunday — Fasting for the Goddess

Right click here to download the mp3.

Art by Willow Arlenea
A little while ago, Jena contacted me about a project she has started to fast for revelation about Heavenly Mother. In this episode, she tells her story as she grew in her interest and desire to know her Mother God and how she came to start this project. She extends an invitation to fast on the third Sunday of each month for specific and official revelation about Heavenly Mother. For more detail, check out these links:

Jena will be watching the comments to 
answer questions or discuss issues 
raised in her interview.

Jena's Recommended Resources 
Mormon Matters Podcast


  1. Hi Jena! Your optimism is infectious. I just had a couple of thoughts during your interview:

    I got goosebumps during your invitation to fast for knowledge about Mother in Heaven.

    Our family has a very special experience with women using priesthood through a priesthood holder. My parents were snowboarding and they crashed, my dad was seriously injured and was in and out of consciousness. Another guy who was out with them and my mom (using the priesthood of her husband, my dad) gave him a blessing before EMT arrived and took him to the hospital and I've never forgotten that experience. But you hear those stories so rarely so I loved that you shared your experience too. I wish we would hear that more often

    Your willingness to share your experience from that abusive relationship (here and on your blog)is so tender and very emotional. I really appreciate you taking a stance like that to come out and say "hey, this is not right."

    It's like I've known you for so long, but only now really getting to know who you are and it is beautiful! Thank you Jena!

  2. I'm still listening (only part way through) but I just have to say, I LOVE that you're a fellow "didn't go on a mission because I didn't want to, even though people were pressuring me to" woman.
    Soul sisters, yay!!

  3. Unlike some of the other women's interviews, Jena has found her interactions with the Mormon Church to be empowering to her as a woman even if some have been inadequate and so it comes as no suprise that she does not question the authority of the church despite her "feminist leanings." It also is no suprise that she would use a traditional structure to try and bring awareness to a traditional institution. She is not out to change the church but to open up for herself a way for herself and other women to be more a part of such a male centered organization. She has a lot of energy to devote to her cause and in the process she is using.

    This is my thought that came of listening to what for me was a very difficult interview to listen to: If, as Jena and others throughout western culture get what they want - acknowledgment of the divine feminine, will it change how women and children are treated here and around the world? If we bring back into harmony the female aspects of divinity in the "form" of a female, will it help both women and men to feel closer to God? Will the face of nurturing mother God ease us from the burden of judgment from our current kingly male God? Without that constant judgment, would we turn to look at one another with more compassion and perhaps greater acceptance and cooperation than we now do? Would we try to understand each other before we sought to defend our ground if our role model was womb bearing mother rather than sword wielding father? If women are allowed to be strong, will men be allowed to be soft?

    Thank you Sybil for starting these conversations and giving us a place to share our thought. And thank you Jena for being young and full of energy for your passion which I hope brings more compassion into the world.

  4. Jena, I agree with Svedi Pie that your enthusiasm, make that your whole personality has a lot of draw. You've got charisma.

    I'm pretty much disillusioned with the church, so to hear your ideas really "pushed back" at me, if you know what I mean. I don't know what I would think if there was suddenly a big revelation in Salt Lake City about the Divine Feminine. I don't know if it would change how I feel about the church.

    It would have to be something pretty big to get me excited, I think. Like having a female prophetess called alongside the male prophet. Like, if Heavenly Mother became a reality in the church, well, WOMEN would have to become a reality right alongside Her, I would think. Otherwise ... well, otherwise, what would it mean?

    I do have a specific question: What are you hoping will happen? Specifically. I'd love to get a piece of your vision. What do you see as the revelation that could come?

    Wow. Sorry this turned out so long.

  5. What a great idea! I like your fasting idea, Jena. And the picture is awesome. I love it!

  6. Hi my Svedi Pie! I already knew your Mom was awesome, but this just adds to it. I think it's a very powerful element in our religion as it stands right now that a woman can call on the Priesthood power in this manner. I really hope the knowledge that it's possible is still being passed on to children, youth, and new converts.

    Jenni -- Yay soul sisters!

    Tansy -- Thank you!

    Working on second transmission... please hold!

  7. Sorry for the delay on my responses to you, Stacey and Anonymous... I got... well... wordy. I hope this covers it though!

    I'll spare this page one of my infamous ramblings. ;)

  8. Jena, any chance you could break your response into pieces and put it over here to keep the conversation in one place?

  9. As an Emerson lover myself, I agree more strongly with the idea of transendentalism and less for the need for a specific tradition to guide my spiritual life. You have lots of energy and ideas and I look forward to where you are ten years from now, but right now, in my life, it is too much "Mormon" for me.

    I also believe that emotional abuse goes both ways in relationships and that if you are experiencing it, the other person is experiencing it and both people need to work on things. This is not a popular view in the DV world which promotes abuse as more one-sided. As you noted that your partner had few social supports in his life, to counteract addictions, a tri-fold approach of skill development, social support and spiritual exploration need to happen. The church has experimented with support groups but I wonder if their lack of support for these groups is part of pretending that these issues do not exist in the church. Utah is number one in the nation in internet pornography use as well as antidepressent prescriptions. These two things tell me that people are trying to cope in other ways because they are not getting the help they need. Professional angst!

  10. Okay, I went through and tried to edit my rhetoric a little for posting here. :)

    I don't specifically call for more [than the three things mentioned in the podcast] because I feel like getting those questions answers opens many, many doors, and I (personally) want to remain open to what comes from it rather than possibly get stuck on asking the "wrong" question(s) and be closed off to receiving what what God wants to give. After all, my views and opinions of how I think of Her could be wrong and I'm open to be corrected. If I could have all I wished:... the authority that I feel is given in conjunction with temple covenants openly acknowledged and utilized. I would like to see Her spoken of as an intelligent individual who works with her husband. I want enough information about her to have something for women to sink their teeth into, chew on, take into themselves, and make a part of themselves. I want whatever comes to infuse every cell of every woman who accepts it with an electric sense of her divine nature and potential, not as a platitude or even an attitude, but as spiritual knowledge.

    I feel that being given something concrete and specific about the Feminine Divine will inherently result in a shift in the way women are perceived, treated, and involved in the Church. Full integration and acceptance will take time. [...] It has the potential for major culture clash around the world. It flies in the face of thousands of years of patriarchy and that's going to make a lot of people very uncomfortable.

    However, for ... the accompanying difficulties, I can't help but believe it will be ultimately for the betterment of all. I believe the advantage would be worth it's Emersonian tax. ... I unequivocally believe that having a picture of female Divinity--Priesthood or Priestesshood--would only give us more tools with which to do the work we already perform. ... I think it would bring better focus and clarity to the eternal partnership that is so stressed in our teachings about marriage and family life. We will learn better how men and women can be true complements--yin and yang--when one isn't perceived as always needing to defer to the other. I do think the vision of a Mother God would encourage interconnectedness, cooperation, acceptance, and appreciation of the strength men and women can bring each other. I have nothing but hope and expectation that such a revelation would indeed improve the lives of women and children wherever it touches them.

    [A]s for my passion and optimism... to take from Emerson again (I loves me them there Transcendentalists!): " Every great achievement is the victory of a flaming heart." So thank you! :D

  11. Stacey - I understand. :) And yes... I can admit that I was by no means perfect in the relationship, largely by not entirely out of ignorance. I talk a bit more about my own failings on my blog where I expand on the story of that relationship, but I did/do have some issues of my own and things I did wrong, things I wish I could go back and handle differently.

    I do remember hearing about an addiction support group a few years ago, but it seemed to fade quickly and, at least in my region, I haven't heard it mentioned in a long time. I don't know if it went away through lack of local or general response or if it's just not advertised unless you go to a leader and ask for help.

  12. Jena,

    Thank you for the way you took my comments. I was worried it would be taken wrong and I am grateful for your very kind response. The most important thing is to keep talking even if we are not in total agreement. That is what helps us get to understanding. I wish the Mormon church talked about these issues more and there wasn't the intense cultural shyness of opening up about things that might offend others. (But not from the women on this blog!-yeah!)

    I wanted to get my post taken down because I didn't want to offend anyone. I didn't want to be too polemic (I just learned that new vocabulary word) I'm still learning what it really means to be assertive - to respect myself and others and speak my needs and allow others to own their own reactions. I guess that is part of my path of learning that requires distance and contact with my Mormon heritage.

  13. Stacey, no problem and I do agree. :) I have to be able to look at myself and be honest about who I am and what I do and why, and be responsible. -That- is a lesson about Integrity I would like to see emphasized more in YW than just outward honesty and maintaining standards. "To thine own self be true and it must follow..." etc. I think the openness will come, and I think it is coming. We as individuals are the culture after all, so yeah, as long as we just keeping talking, it'll empower others to do it too.

    With the assertiveness thing, I'm totally on that path with you. I will note it's not just a Mormon thing, but an American thing as well; we're all a little off-kilter with letting people own their reactions and own ours in return. It is a challenge to say "This is where I am, and that's me. That's where you are, that's you." I'm working really hard on just letting everyone be where they are, including myself, and letting there be forgiveness where it's needed, including for myself. Sometimes it feels like a lonely journey, like I'm the only one who has gotten that message in life, so I'm SO glad you mentioned it. :)

  14. Hawaiian Hulagirl said...

    You mentioned the LDS Addiction Recovery groups. It seems like they are alive and well. I was researching them the other day at the ProvidentLiving website-,11664,6629-1,00.html
    It’s amazing how many groups they have, especially in Northern Utah. Good for them.

    Some of the things they address are:
    Drugs (both prescription and illegal)
    Coffee and tea
    Inappropriate sexual behavior
    Disorders associated with eating

    It takes so much courage for us to really face ourselves. But then we come to know ourselves genuinely. We can own the good and the bad. It’s so much better than living in a fantasy bubble. I applaud all those who look themselves squarely in the face. They will see difficulty, but they will also see beauty.

  15. Hawaiian Hulagirl also said...
    Jenna- I love your humble, open heart - your willingness to accept what God will give, no matter what it turns out to be. This gives you a good chance at receiving what you seek.

  16. i don't know if i would consider them "alive and well" as you say, hulagirl. my experience has been that the church pretty much pretends that members don't have these types of problems. i know that i never hear about these support groups. never. so, they may exist on the church website, but where are they in practice?

    i feel like i'm coming across kind of angry and bitter here. i guess because all the leaders i've worked with have pretty much left me afloat on my own.

    it DOES take courage to really face ourselves. but the church just gives me guilt and shame for owning all that has happened to me. the church only likes perfect people. and i'm not perfect and i can't pretend i am either.

    on the topic of the actual podcast, i think jena's idea is a good one, though it feels very idealistic to me. maybe because i don't feel much trust in the church leaders right now.

    jena, do you really feel as hopeful as you sound? do you really think that if we fast and pray that the male leaders will do something?

  17. Anonymous/Hawaiian Hulagirl: Thank you for the citation and your words. :)

    It is idealistic. I have no illusions about that. I have many times sat back and thought "Am I -insane-? This one elaboration in doctrine has potential for almost endless ramifications. These things don't actually happen!" But... they do. The advent of the Law of Moses. The fulfillment of the Law in Christ. The Restoration. MASSIVE shifts have happened in the past, and there's no reason to believe they cannot happen again. It's a very particular part of our doctrine that there's more to come, whether the way we and those around us express that attitude in our culture or not.

    I do acknowledge that it may take time. Like I said in the podcast, there's a LOT of work to be done, a lot of shift to make. Nevertheless, yes; I am totally hopefully and I unequivocally believe that if those who are willing to act, do act--with faith--it will happen. At the very least, it has a better chance of happening and happening sooner than if we don't bother at all.

    Christ himself told us to love and pray for our enemies, those who despitefully use us or persecute us. I've seen a lot of people in various forums speaking about Church leaders the way they'd speak of enemies and oppressors. So, if there's any belief in Christ's teachings at all, why not use the tools he gave us? Pray for a change of heart for the leaders. I think these are the things that matter far more than the flaws of mortal culture; These are the things that can cure those flaws if we'll use them. :)

  18. Jena,

    I think the church takes the best years of young women's lives and uses them up having children or making them guilty for not having children and convinces them that the church is the only way to save the world. This is easy to do with little children and as I saw the church doing this to my little children, my son who loved to pray to Heavenly Mother and was trained to only pray to a father (he was three at the time and it took two years but they finally broke him of the habit at age 5 - the women who taught him in Primary!) I took my family out of the mormon church and we now get to have any sort of spiritual life we decide to have. It is wonderful hearing and honoring the insights and perspectives of these unique and beautiful people. They are becoming more assertive and freer to express their genuine sweet innocence and wisdom inherent in their essential natures as human beings. No religious authority required!

  19. Stacey, I totally get what you mean about the way the church tells young women to marry young and have lots of kids. On the other hand, I can also see how the church gives people a lot of purpose in their lives. I think this is part of why people want authority. I admit that I tend to step away from authority myself and believe as I choose, but I do see the draw. Sad story about your son. I would like to see that change. That's part of why I like Jena's project. If it did bring about the desired change, it would so positively affect the women who are within the church.

  20. I will respond asap, my week's just been hectic thus far and I gotta run to work. :)

  21. So how was the fast this past Sunday? Did you have good participation? What was it like for you Jena?

  22. Okay, I'm back! Thank you for your patience. :) And Happy Women's Equality Day! Yay for the Vote!

    Hi Stacey. I totally hear what you're saying and I have little to say or add except that almost anything can take up the best years of a woman's life, whether church, politics, school, career, children, travel, etc. Does your son pray to Heavenly Mother again, now?

    I know what you mean by the "the Church is the only way to save the world" message. I remember hearing a quote by Neal A. Maxwell from the 70s that at the time was so striking, I jotted it down in the back of my scriptures. (At least, I -think- it was Maxwell in the 70s. I can't find a citation on date or speaker, so take this with a grain of salt.) Anyway, it was something like, "Taking the mother out of the home in order to serve society is like taking your finger out of the dike to teach everyone else how to swim." As I recall, this was quoted in an Institute class just in the past couple of years, so while it's not speaking solely of the Church itself, that is certainly part of it and sentiment/attitude is definitely circulating. And while I whole-heartedly agree that motherhood and good mothering are vital to the health of children and society, I now find that statement hyperbolic.

    I haven't had a chance to write up this past Sunday's experiences, but for me it was really good. Our lesson was about the changes that happened in the early Church with the inclusion of Gentiles, so I got to get in some comments about how the Church isn't in its final form, and we have no reason not to expect it to change, and change a lot. As for participation... I confess I really don't know how many people are fasting with me. I know of at least two! I'm sure there's more but I don't have a count of participants, unfortunately. I wish I did.

    I also got to talk with my VTs about women's ability to invoke the Priesthood, the history of women blessing for healing and birth, and that women being ordained is not totally far-fetched. What's really cool about that: I related Svedi Pie's story from above, because one of my VTs is her youngest sister and hadn't heard the whole thing. Both VTs were surprised by the information, but they seemed intrigued and pleased to hear about the information I gave. I told them to pass on the knowledge and they both said they would.

    I would love to hear anyone else's experiences, too, so please let me know!

  23. Oh yeah, hi Tara! Thank you for your input! :) Positive impact is my hope.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.