Why Do We Look for the Living Among the Dead?

"Holy Women at the Tomb of Christ" by Annibale Carracci

"Holy Women at the Tomb of Christ" by Annibale Carracci

Last night Loralee Scott posed another of her famously enigmatic questions, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” But this time the question was not hers, it was asked by an angel at the resurrection of Christ. What is the message contained in this question today, and how might it relate to the feminine, and the bonds between women?

Perhaps the answer can be found in Loralee’s next question, “Is there such a thing as a collective or cultural individuation process?”-  and of course we all wanted to believe that the answer would be yes.

From the moment Loralee began with “tonight I’m going to tell a story in a way I’ve never told it before...” we knew we were in for something special. Taking us step by grounded step, she led us to the threshold-busting idea that if we look carefully enough through a feminine lens, Christ can be viewed as the original feminist male.

Loralee went on to note that every encounter Christ had with women was revolutionary. That “Christ ushered in a new paradigm of masculine strength, positioned in the soil of sacrificial love.” And as I thought back, reframing the religious lessons from my childhood,  I could remember that yes, the governing principles embodied in Christ’s life were rooted in love - but it was not just any love, it was the deepest kind of ancient matriarchal love, founded in and bonded with feminine power.

Loralee repainted the biblical story of the morning after the crucifixion - Three Marys walking at dawn with stalwart determination, compelled at great risk to bear witness to the body of Christ, and anoint his body at the tomb. But as the three women crossed the threshold to darkness, they were met not with the body of Christ, but with an angel asking the question, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” With heads bowed low in grief, they did not know how to reply, and the angel spoke again, “Christ is risen.” With these words the angel offered transcendence for their sorrow and the promise of rebirth.

Why do we look for the living among the dead?  Perhaps because what is dead to us, as women, is not something ‘other’. It is nothing less than our collective selves, our feminine power, that has been struck down and held as dead for too long. We need to seek the feminine divine in order to reclaim it, and bring it back to life. And perhaps the life of Christ, the image of Christ, may not have been calling us to join him with the Father, but instead, with the Mother…. What if the divine aspect of which he spoke was not the seat of the Father (which wasn’t lost) but the long-lost seat of the Feminine Divine?

The immensity of this idea is still sneaking up on me, like a tsunami rolling through deep waters toward shore.

Loralee explained, “The journey of these three women reflects the fact that they were rooted in the old ways of knowing and being. They were going to the tomb to carry out the rituals of the dead that had been enacted for centuries. Yet, the angel's question carries an intimation that these three friends were in fact, looking for life.”

Friends. Women. United in peril. Looking for new life. I cannot begin to recount all the connections Loralee made through her research (you must hear for yourself!), but I would like to share how her ideas have effected me...

I’ve held a recurring primitive image in my mind for decades. Often, as I’m trying to sleep, I see the image of Christ on the cross and hear him asking, “My god, why hast thou forsaken me?” Since I left the church when I was a teen, I’ve never considered the image in a literal way. I’ve always thought this image was about my father, and his struggles with mental illness. But now I believe it’s about myself. And the God that has forsaken me is the Feminine Divine. It’s the Feminine God that I seek.  And she is the one we all need to shift the centerpoint of power. God the father is holding on strong, but God the mother is no longer by his side.

If Christ was, at his core, a feminine male, then perhaps the words of Christ, the cry of the forsaken, was the collective cry of the feminine, held in darkness. Stuck. Out of balance. Unwhole. And perhaps the promise of the angel, “Christ is risen”, is also the promise for collective individuation of the feminine - a field that needs to be constellated before it can be whole.

Perhaps women, on the other hand, need to die to that false self system that patriarchy has imposed on them, whatever form it has taken. This is not the same thing as the annihilation of the ego, but dying to the false self would necessarily precede the birth of the true self. The result of this ‘death’ could be, as with men, a capacity for true relationality.” - Demaris Wehr, Jung and Feminism