Praying in the Feminine

In the Tu B’Shevat seder, I made the choice to have all prayers address Goddess (i.e. the feminine face of the Divine). This was done as a conscious and carefully considered choice. While Kohenet focuses on the Divine Feminine, I personally believe that “God” is male, female, both and neither — all at once. There are many different facets and faces that are presented to us based on our needs, experiences, and world-view. My stance used to be that if the Divine is inherently genderless, then it doesn’t matter what gender we pray in. I now know that it does matter. My experience has also taught me that while many people give voice to this, they do not act it out in practice.

The easiest example is the one I use in the Tu B’Shevat Seder.

עץ חיים הי למחזקים בה
Eytz chayim hi l’ma-chazikim bah

She is a tree of life for those who hold her fast

This is generally translated as “it is a tree of life…”. People will say, “well Hebrew is gendered but English isn’t,” to explain the use of “it.” But, the same people will use the same “gendering” of the language to explain why God is a male. In effect, all the references to a feminine God(dess) have been removed from the translations but the masculine remains. An complete imbalance has been created. Making the choice to pray in the feminine helps to correct this imbalance. Check out this re-interpretation of the 23rd Psalm, and the following conversation, on a progressive Christian site and you’ll see a beautiful illustration of this at work.

If God(dess) is (d) all of the above…then we should pray to the most appropriate facet for the occasion.


This essay is part of my project for my Tzovah (first-level) initiation with the Hebrew Priestess Institute. The project I have been working on for the past year and 1/2 is to develop seasonal seders. The physical deliverable I will present to the directors of the program and my sisters in January will be the first seder, in what I hope will be an on-going and life-long project: Seders for all Seasons.

5 Replies to “Praying in the Feminine”

  1. Shabat Shalom, Carly.

    First of, you should write:
    עץ חיים היא למחזיקים בה
    with א in the end of "hi" & י in Mahazikim.

    Secondly, you wrote that we should pray to "the most appropriate facet for the occasion" of Elohim.
    Why do you suggest the feminine face is the most appropriate to Tu B'Shvat?

  2. Dotan,

    As always, thanks for correcting my Hebrew! I suggest the feminine face is appropriate in honor of the tree of life — which is feminine language at least.

    If "she is a tree of life…" then we should honor HER on Tu B'Shevat.

    That's my reasoning.

  3. That sentence in Proverbs reffers to the wisdom, as I understand. ("Happy is the man that findeth wisdom… She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her").

    I feel that Tu B'Shvat is connected to the Green Man aspect of god. Maybe the feminine side of Tu B'Shvat can be manifested as the Mother Land of Israel.

  4. Actually, Dotan I approach both that Psalms quote and Tu B'shevat with Asherah and her Tree aspect. I sincerely believe Eitz Chayim referred to her in earlier times, too.

  5. I figured someone would pipe in with the Asherah aspect! It's not what I'm drawn to, but it's certainly there.

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