Embracing the Divine Feminine: Finding God through God the Ecstasy of Physical Love-The Song of Songs Annotated & Explained

Embracing the Divine Feminine: Finding God through God the Ecstasy of Physical Love-The Song of Songs Annotated & Explained

by Cynthia Bourgeault PhD
     
 

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More than ancient erotic love poetry, this celebration of the human relationship with Wisdom can be a companion for your own spiritual journey.

The Song of Songs is the Hebrew Bible's deeply erotic poem of love, sexual yearning and consummation. Holding it sacred yet troubled by its thinly veiled eroticism, Jews and Christians for millennia have

Overview

More than ancient erotic love poetry, this celebration of the human relationship with Wisdom can be a companion for your own spiritual journey.

The Song of Songs is the Hebrew Bible's deeply erotic poem of love, sexual yearning and consummation. Holding it sacred yet troubled by its thinly veiled eroticism, Jews and Christians for millennia have read the Song of Songs as an allegory of God’s love for Israel—the classic Jewish understanding—or Jesus’s love for his Church—the classic Christian understanding. This fresh translation restores the Song’s eroticism and interprets it as a celebration of the love between the Divine Feminine and the contemporary spiritual seeker.

Scholar and award-winning teacher Rami Shapiro renders this ancient love song as Lady Wisdom offering seekers physical and spiritual intimacy with her so that they might awaken to and participate wisely in the unity of God, woman, man and nature. His intriguing facing-page commentary provides historical, religious and spiritual insights from Christian and Jewish wisdom traditions as well as clear comparisons to other translations.

Now you can understand the poetry, beauty, genius and mystery of the Song of Songs with no previous knowledge of the Hebrew Bible or wisdom literature. Compelling in its novelty and accessible in its presentation, this version of the Song of Songs will beckon you more deeply into Jewish-Christian sacred texts while offering you wisdom teachings and practices rooted in but not limited to religion.

Editorial Reviews

Spirituality & Practice - Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

In her foreword to this paperback, Cynthia Bourgeault points out that for centuries rabbis and celibate monks saw the sexual imagery of the Song of Songs as allegorical. She has long had an interest in exploring this text further with an emphasis on its erotic and mystical meanings. She lauds Rami Shapiro's new translations and concludes:

"The Song of Songs, in its own voice, is something so universally true and spiritually luminous that it eventually wins over all but the most puritanically repressed to its own elusive charm."

In his notes to the text, the prolific and multitalented Rami Shapiro discusses the author of the Song of Songs, the use of the text's imagery of physical love and sexual union to express spiritual awakening, why the Bible needs the Song of Songs, and the message of seeing God through our flesh. He writes:

"I am reading the Song of Songs as an allegory of love between Wisdom and the seeker of Wisdom, a celebration of the psychosexual-spiritual awakening to the unity of God, woman, man, and nature when a seeker of Wisdom embraces and is embraced by Wisdom herself. As such, the sexual union at the heart of the Song is vitally important."

Shapiro's commentary is rich with multifaith insights and his own Jewish perspective. Most intriguing of all is an end-piece title "The Path of Ecstasy: How to Use the Song of Songs." Here he melds body, mind, and soul in a quest for erotic pleasure and ecstasy.

Association of Jewish Libraries - Chava Pinchuck

Shir HaShirim, the Song of Songs by King Solomon, has been interpreted as an allegory of God's lovefor the Jewish people (and Jesus' love for the church). Rabbi Shapiro asserts that "the Song of Songsis about the realization of Wisdom through the unification of the spiritual (feminine) and the physical(masculine). The woman in the Song isn’t Israel or the church but Lady Wisdom, and the man in theSong isn’t God but you, the seeker of Wisdom." After several introductory chapters that discuss theorigins of the text (which may have been authored by someone who ascribed the Song to King Solomon),the feminine in Biblical texts, and love poems from ancient India, Shapiro provides his translation linedup next to his interpretation of the text. For example, although the Hebrew word tapuach translates to"apple," Shapiro deems “apricot” a better fit for fruit native to Israel and representative of the poet’sintent. In a chapter after the text, “The Path of Ecstasy: How to Use theSong of Songs,” the author outlinesways to unify the spiritual and the physical. Notes and a bibliography are included in the back matter.

A prolific author, Rabbi Shapiro received ordination from Hebrew Union College and is also initiatedinto the Ramakrishna Order of Vedanta Hinduism. With a Foreword by Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault, anEpiscopal Priest, numerous references to the Divine Feminine in Eastern practices, and comparisonsto Christian ideas with quotes from the New Testament, the author embraces the publisher’s mottosof “Walking Together, Finding the Way” and “For People of All Faiths, All Backgrounds.” With Rabbi Shapiro’s bold disagreement with Rashi’s allegorical interpretation and suggestions for “a fullerecstasy” practice with a partner, this book is not for traditional Jews. It will have a place in librariesthat collect feminist-oriented literature and novel interpretations of Judaic texts, and whose patrons areinterested in comparative religion and creating their own rituals.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781594735752
Publisher:
Turner Publishing Company
Publication date:
10/27/2014
Series:
SkyLight Illuminations Series
Pages:
176
Sales rank:
1,340,409
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.50(d)

Meet the Author

Rami Shapiro, a renowned teacher of spirituality across faith traditions, is an award-winning storyteller, poet and essayist. He is author of The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness: Preparing to Practice, Recovery—The Sacred Art: The Twelve Steps as Spiritual Practice and The Divine Feminine in Biblical Wisdom Literature: Selections Annotated & Explained (all SkyLight Paths), among other books.

Rami Shapiro is available to speak on the following topics:

  • Writing—The Sacred Art: Beyond the Page to Spiritual Practice
  • Stop Playing God: 12 Steps as Spiritual Practice
  • Biblical Wisdom for Post-biblical Times: An Exploration of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Job
  • The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness: Cultivating Compassion in Daily Life
  • Hasidic Wisdom: An Exploration of Hasidic Storytelling, Theology and Contemplative Practice
  • Saints and Sages: Biblical Prophets, Ancient Rabbis and the Building of a Just World

Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault, PhD, is an Episcopal priest and retreat leader focusing in Christian Spirituality. She is principal teacher for the Contemplative Society in Victoria, British Columbia, and founding director of the Aspen Wisdom School in Aspen, Colorado. Her books include Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening, The Wisdom Way of Knowing, Encountering the Wisdom Jesus, Mystical Hope and Love Is Stronger than Death. She serves on the core faculty for the Spiritual Paths Foundation whose mission is to promote curiosity, respect and acceptance between people of diverse spiritual traditions.

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