Mysticism as the Feminine Divine
A Talk by Kaye Gersch
Thursday September 4 7.30 - 9.30pm
Quaker Meeting House, 10 Hampson Street
Kelvin Grove (Park on Prospect Terrace)
Members and Concession $10, Non - members $15
I open this talk with a discussion of the possibility of a feminine divine that is experienced directly. I frame this experience as mystical/numinous, and compare it with a masculine divine codified in religious dogma/theory. In this way feminine mystical spirituality is libidinal/life energy, in contrast with the masculine/patriarchal spirituality of credo/belief.
If mysticism is manifestation of the feminine divine, various questions must be asked. Is experience of the feminine divine available to men as well as to women? Is this question parallel to asking if the masculine divine is available to women as well as men? Are male and female divine then, to be drawn on gender lines? If not, what other differentiations are adequate to the notions of male and female divine? Do men need to become “feminine” in order to access mystical experience? I propose possible answers to these questions.
The body and the words of mystics reflect a direct personal relation to the divine, a primary experience, which is independent of, and therefore not mediated by, religious structures. From a contemporary perspective, this offers a protest against dogmatic theology, but also a female critique of male-dominated religion. Don Cupitt says, “mysticism is what saves us from religion.” Why might we need to be saved from religion?
I will emphasize that an idea (idol?) of ‘God’ (or ‘Goddess’) is a projection of the divine, while mysticism is a realization of the divine. I will introduce the concept of the numinous, which will become the central theme in our workshop. This talk is a necessary prerequisite for the workshop. It covers the philosophical and psychological underpinnings of our beliefs around spiritual experience. The workshop is, by contrast, almost entirely experiential.
The talk is in three sections, and I invite discussion and comment in between.
Kaye Gersch is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist who has worked in private practice for more than 25 years. She recently completed a Doctorate at the University of Queensland. The topic of her thesis is The Feminine in Body, Language and Spirituality. Her work is multidisciplinary, encompassing philosophy, theology and depth psychology. Kaye has lived in the Cairns area since 1998. Tending a very large garden, and playing harpsichord fertilize her clinical and scholarly work. You can discover more about her and her work at kayegersch.com