Podcast: A Heavenly Mother

Last summer Russell Stevenson sat down with Rachel Steenblik and Caitlin Connolly, two women who have studied the concept of a divine feminine–or Heavenly Mother.

Rachel was the primary researcher on a BYU Studies article that identified known references to a Heavenly Mother in the Mormon historical record. Caitlin was commission to paint Heavenly Mother by Deseret Book. 

Though it is assumed that we have a Heavenly Mother, she is rarely mentionioned in LDS Church discourse, with a preference to referring to Heavenly Father or Heavenly Parents. 

Steenblick notes that most members are aware of the reference to a Heavenly Mother by Eliza R. Snow in “O My Father.” However, her song was not the first reference. W. W. Phelps wrote two pieces–one a few months before the Prophet Joseph Smith’s death and one a few months after. And in the nineteenth-century Church, a Heavenly Mother was not unfrequently referenced. 

Three prophets of the twentieth century, Spencer W. Kimball, Joseph Fielding Smith, and Harold B. Lee, stated that women were created in Heavenly Mother’s image.

Contemporary Old Testament scholars see the divine feminine, or a Heavenly Mother, in scripture, though it is difficult for the lay person to identify those references.

Both women feel discussions of a divine feminine are important because they help to answer the question for women: “Where do I belong in the eternities?

The Church’s gospel topic essay “Mother in Heaven,” the BYU Studies article, and a new book published by Deseret Book can help encourage dialogue on this important topic.

Check out to the resources referenced in the podcast at LDS Perspectives

2 thoughts on “Podcast: A Heavenly Mother

  1. It was odd that the ladies being interviewed, when questioned about why we haven’t talked about a Mother in Heaven, didn’t cite what happened to feminists during what has been termed the September Six.

    Another factor in the 20th century behavior relative to Mother in Heaven would be Joseph F Smith’s focus on the priesthood as a male thing. Beyond that you have the opinion of general Christianity that women are cursed, based on their understanding of Eve. And then you have large non-Christian nations where women are just despised. So there are various reasons why modern people don’t understand how much honor the ancients felt for the Divine Progenitors.

    As for me and my household, we’ve always known that women are the center of the universe. If it weren’t for the women in my family, none of us would be members of the church. For those of us who do you have righteous husbands, we are so glad to have them be active and we support them in all they do.

    I’ve personally always been puzzled by the assertion that people don’t know what goes on with Mother in Heaven. To me it’s always been extremely clear what Her role is and it’s glorious.

  2. I’ve always been of a roughly similar opinion to the seminary teacher referenced in the podcast: we don’t hear much about Her (I’ll give her a capital–why not?) because a) Heavenly Father is fiercely protective of Her, and b) we’d just be idiots about it, and He understands consequences far better than we do.

    As a guy, I know how *I* am inclined to react when somebody insults my wife. Especially when that someone is one of my children. Just sayin’. I don’t believe for a second that a Heavenly Mother is somehow incapable of handling an insult. But knowledge brings responsibility, and come the judgement I wouldn’t want to have to face having blasphemed against Her. Better not to put that risk out there for us, says I.

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