Sunday, December 13, 2009

Thinking on the Heavenly Mother and Trees

I just read a fascinating article about the Heavenly Mother. The author does a good job in laying out known references for a Heavenly Mother, both in modern and ancient text. I had no idea there were so many references to her in the Old Testament. There is enough in this article to blog about for a lifetime, but the one thing I am thinking about right now is the symbol of the tree.

God's wife or Heavenly Mother, known as Asherah, in ancient Hebrew has many different symbolic words, epitaphs, metaphors and such associated with her, such as Happiness, Blessedness, Sanctuary, Breasts-and-Womb, Fertility, and Lady Wisdom, but according to scholars and archaeologists the tree or sacred pole or stump of sacred tree, has been the way in which she was both worshiped and idolized.

When you look at our scripture cannon, there are so many trees: the Tree of Life (in the Garden as well as the one in Nephi's dream), the Tree of Knowledge, numerous olive tree references, fig trees, the sticks (wood) of Jesse and Judah, and many more.

When God commands Adam and Eve with regard to childbearing he says, "be fruitful," using the tree analogy. Trees are also a symbol of the earth in general. On Earth day we plant trees. We refer to the Earth in the feminine, as Mother Earth. In his article, Barney shows that the Hebrew translations of the Old Testament suggest that the Mother in Heaven was present and aided during the creation of the earth. Thus, the term Mother Earth feels even more appropriate. (p. 14)

Whether one goes in for scholarship or not, I think we can all appreciate the idea of having something to represent our Heavenly Mother. His article specifically denounces idol worship, but just as we use, hymns, art, and other things to edify us and remind us of Heavenly Father, Jesus, the prophets, and holy women in the scriptures, I think it totally appropriate and even necessary to have some way of honoring our Mother in Heaven.

One of his suggestions for how to honor her, which I think is appropriate at this time of year is to change our association with Christmas trees and think about Heavenly Mother as we are thinking about the birth of the son of God.

He also suggests that we can have art that represents Her and our love for her. I have a beautiful piece of art on my wall, by an artist named Jackie Brethen Lieshman. Her work is mixed media, photography and collage and this particular piece is of a tree. She photographed many trees and sewed and glued the different pieces of photography together to make this collage that all hinges from the trunk of one tree. It is one of the most precious things I own. I look at it every morning and think how blessed I am to have such a beautiful piece of art. Now it has even more meaning to me.

Another thing that I am thinking of is how after my daughter was born, I bought a tree and planted her placenta under it. I thought this was a lovely symbolic gesture of giving back to the earth and using the placenta, which nurtured her, to nurture the tree which would then bear fruit and nurture her again. I never thought of it, then, but it is also a way to symbolically honor the Heavenly Mother.

How has your understanding of the Heavenly Mother changed with pregnancy/motherhood, if at all? I'd like to hear about it.


  1. I'm glad you liked the article! Oh and I love your new artwork/blog design.

    Dio's pregnancy and birth had a lot of tree symbolism--from the tree of life henna painting, to the blank memory book I purchased for him when I was newly pregnant that had leaves/branches on it, to his placenta print. Zari's theme, as it were, was that of a rose. In fact, her name means "Rose" in Arabic and her middle name is Rose. Her placenta print looked exactly like a rose, which helped us decide on her name. Her placenta is buried under a rose bush in our last house. Which reminds me, I still need to bury Dio's...

    Anyway back to your question: my daily meditation during Zari's pregnancy (listening to 1 of the two Hypnobirthing CD tracks) evolved into a beautiful imagery of me walking down a hallway side by side with Heavenly Mother. At the end was a door to a room. She left me there. I was in the room by myself--it was the place where I would give birth. In that room there was another door that opened into a great hall, filled with women who had given birth, waiting for me to emerge on the other side, as it were. I also felt a strong need to talk to her during my first pregnancy. Sometimes when I was saying prayers, I'd just need to talk to her for a while.

  2. Thanks! I'm glad you like it. It is a work in progress, but I love it, too.

    Thanks for sharing this meditation. I love the idea of the women waiting on the other side of the room. It sort of reminds me of the temple. Beautiful. Thank you.

  3. Immediately following my first sons birth, I felt the most intense respect and love for all mothers, with our Heavenly Mother at the head of us all. I felt as if she were ushering me in to motherhood. The memory of this has sustained me when being the mom has been a challenge.
    Thank you for this beautiful site.

  4. I was googling "tree of life" images today. I think I'm going to start a collection, perhaps.

    Funny thing- after Christmas last year, I bought a bunch of mini decorative pine trees on clearance. I put them in various places in the house, always feeling a little silly about having "Christmas" trees out all year long, but this morning I had to smile when I looked at them.



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