We know next to nothing for certain about the Divine Feminine. There is a long standing tradition in Mormonism that preaches of a Heavenly Mother to complement a Heavenly Father, but the details are lacking to say the least. So in this post I figured I would loosely sketch out a few theories that I have heard and felt were noteworthy.
Before I sketch these theories out there are several related and sometimes more fundamental issues that are also debatable which have a direct bearing on any theories about divinity. Here are some of them:
The Nature of Spirits: There is some debate over whether spirits have a beginning or not. The most popular theories about the nature of spirits in Mormonism range from Orson Pratt’s intelligent spirit particles model where independent spirit particles choose to band together and form single-mind spirits, to the theory which was seemingly implied by Joseph Smith in 1844 that spirits are simple and beginningless and irreducible (what I call the whole-cloth model of spirits). In between those theories in the now popular tripartite model proposed by BH Roberts where bodiless pre-spirits (he calls intelligences) are given spirit bodies and then the spirit body comes to earth and merges with a physical body. The theory one holds about spirits makes a difference when it comes to theories about divine women.
The Nature of Spirits 2: If one holds that spirits are not beginningless then a theory is needed to explain where spirits come from. This is where the viviparous spirit birth question comes in. One popular notion is that resurrected divine couples procreate and create spirit bodies through viviparous spirit birth.
The Nature of the Godhead: If one believes that there is a single ultimate Monarch of all existence that we call Heavenly Father that has important implications about divine women. If one believes there is no first Father but rather an infinite regress of Divine Parents and spirit children in existence that implies very different things about divine women. Further, assumptions about the number of persons that make up the Godhead matter. If one insists that the Godhead consists of three male persons only, that is a lot different that assuming there is really an extended Divine Concert of divine beings who unify to make up the One God.
Ok, so with those preliminaries out of the way here are some theories about the divine feminine:
The My Turn On Earth (MTOE) Model: This is what I surmise is the most popular model among modern Mormons. It assumes the tripartite model of spirits in most cases and that also generally assumes that a monogamous divine husband and wife conceive spirit children together. It further usually assumes that billions of spirit children were born prior to this planet being organized. One idea that is compatible with this model is the theory that Heavenly Mother is covertly the Holy Spirit.
The Polygamous MTOE model: Same as above only it assumes a single divine male with multiple divine wives.
The Divine Androgyny model: This is an interesting one. It assumes that the being we call The Father is really the union of an exalted man and woman. In its strongest form it assumes that human males and females can never become exalted alone but by fusing somehow in a resurrection they become divine. A lesser version of this simply assumes the couple is unified as one but with separate resurrected bodies. See here for a longer discussion on this one with some fascinating ancient and modern quotes. Needless to say, this model is not really compatible with a spirit birth assumption.
[Update] Another variation on the androgyny theme is the theory that gender/sex is a mortal characteristic only and that pre-mortal and post-mortal beings are neither male nor female.
The Divine Concert Model: This loosely defined model assumes that the One God is really a massive union of divine individuals (male and female) and that the three members of the Godhead we know of are simply representatives/spokespersons for the One God which is the whole group. There could be many variations on this model depending on assumptions about whether spirits have beginnings or not, etc.
The Two-Track Model: This model assumes there is a race of Gods and an ontologically distinct race of humans. In this model human men don’t become “Gods” they become kings and priests unto God and human women likewise become queens and priestesses unto God but never “Gods” themselves. It is an obscure theory but at least one friend of mine prefers this one and another seems to hold to a variation of it. (If nothing else this model explains why we never hear of or from a Heavenly Mother — because it assumes all spirits are beginningless and there is no HM.)
I will stop there since I can’t think of any other noteworthy models of divine femininity I have encountered. Are there models that you think should be mentioned? Or are there variations that might be added as sub-models under the ones I have mentioned? In the absence of revelation we are simply guessing here but some guesses are easier to defend than others so feel free to defend your favorite model in the comments.