Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Re-Discovering Our Bond with Mother Earth
Mother Earth's Wisdom and Modern Women
So let us look at some of the ancient images of the Earth.
The ancient Earth Goddess was a fertility goddess who sheltered, protected and nourished her children. While the fertility of the land and women were her literal province, symbolically this includes our inner fertility and creativity. Nature's abundance is also available to us if we look to the Earth as our teacher. One of the first lessons She teaches us is to allow all things to grow - weeds, flowers and grasses all grow in the same field. There is no right or wrong, no moral judgments connected with her creativity. All things grow: some grow strong and re-create in time, while others grow and die and go back into the soil to nourish new growth. This truth allows us to experience all aspects our lives without judgment, without trying to control what we experience. This also speaks to our creativity; we have to understand that for creativity to blossom, we have to allow our ideas to spill out and excite us until we find the one thing that calls to us to nurture it and develop it to its fullest capacity.
This is the truth which demands that we ask what our experiences mean, rather than feel victimized by those experiences. It is a masculine, left-brain trait to always try to control what life brings to us. It also indicates a psychological addiction to perfection. It is often through our mistakes (the weeds?) that we learn about the truths of life. Our culture desperately needs to learn this lesson, for we are so afraid of failure that we often by-pass the very lessons that would make us grow strong. And it forces us to live in fear of that failure.
I believe that we are learning from a mistake that came out of the Feminist Movement, which at first placed a higher value on having a career then on the more traditional roles of raising children and making a marriage work. As women came into their own and developed their intellectual capacities to the fullest, they gave these talents to an essentially masculine model of society. The pendulum swung to the other extreme, making marriage and child-rearing less important and desirable in many women’s eyes. Unfortunately, women who stay home to raise their children feel – and they are right - that they are not as valued as women who have a professional career. Not only do they feel less competent, but the unique knowledge they’ve gained from motherhood is also disregarded. When Caroline Kennedy dropped out of contention for Hillary Clinton's Senate seat, a male reporter said that she'd basically only been a mother, and so did not have the experience necessary for the job. This attitude has made the masculine experience of making money and having worldly power more important than the feminine experience of loving interconnectivity and nurturing. We are coming to realize that both motherhood and partnership are as important as career and worldly success, and that this feminine wisdom must be valued in both our private and collective lives.
The Feminine Spirit as it comes through the Earth says that women are fertile, and that we are here for life. When women value their jobs more than their motherhood, we have a problem. The Father King has raped his daughter and instead of running away, she has allowed herself to be married to the Father. And we do have a problem, because our children are being raised by strangers and by television and the Internet, and so are losing out on the love and grounding that unstressed mothers can provide. This is not to say that all mothers should stay home and never realize their full potentials! I am not advocating a return to the idea of ‘a woman’s place is in the home’. I do know, however, that we have to once again value the feminine tasks of life and find ways to live our lives that allow enough time and place for them.
The pendulum is swinging back, though, and now that women have to work for a living, they are realizing how much they would really rather be home raising their children. As do our men. If there were only one choice for the most important job in the world, it would be raising our children to become responsible human beings. Otherwise, why have children at all? This is a problem that all of us have to solve, for we need to fight for our children’s welfare, which means fighting for a future that includes a healthy environment, a secure lifestyle and which values our unique creative potentials. Women want to balance their work with childrearing, loving partnership and community building. And we are the ones who usually teach our children how to use and value their emotional intelligence and intuitive vision as well as their intelligence and career goals.
Would we have valued this new/old wisdom if we had not rushed into the workplace to test ourselves against the men? Hopefully, we will value our roles as mothers and fathers more because of it. Allowing for weeds helps us learn!
We often encounter the Earth’s fertility as inner creativity, and allowing many choices is an important first step, not only for the things we may hope to create in this world but also for finding out who and what we are. This allowing, though, is not 'doing what we please', as we have come to associate with the idea of finding ourselves; allowing has to do with inner patterns of growth which make demands on us, which have internal laws and inherent disciplines which direct the life flow of psychic energy, and which give strength to the new growth in personality. Allowing means that we do not dictate what a person should or should not do with her life. Allowing means being open to our instincts and learning how to follow through on them to see where they bring us.
I did this in my own life. At the time, I was feeling pressure to perform, to make more money and to achieve more success. But this was the time when I was busy being a single mom raising four children and, psychologically, wearing my mantle of furs and learning to listen to my instincts. I had this dream.
I am in a store, looking at a picture and a calendar. I cannot find a salesperson to pay, and after a long time, I finally decide to just take them. As I leave the store, I go through an apartment where a woman is painting someone's portrait. As I walk out the door, the woman painter says (about me), "She's a 12th House person." I come back into the room and ask her how she knew this, because it is true - I have many personal planets in the 12th House in my astrology chart.
This woman starts to ask me why I have taken the picture and calendar. At first, I won't acknowledge that I have them. She tells me that she painted the picture and that I have changed the waning moon to a waxing moon. I still refuse to give them back. Then she calls many children to come into the room and they dance around me, imploring me to give back the things that I have taken for their sake. And I do give them back.
This dream showed me that I could not rush the process that my soul was engaged in, which was leaving the Father's House. While the dream is connected to the Moon Dress (through the calendar) which we will discuss in the next chapter, it also had ramifications about the birthing process of my Self. My ego wanted to believe that the time was right now, for changing the waning moon to a waxing one means that I was rushing to begin something new when I had to complete something already in progress. I felt I had the right to take charge of the timing (the calendar). I was tired of giving myself away to others and wanted to feel as if I was in charge of my own life. Raising four children takes money as well as nurturing.
The woman artist, who radiated power and compassion, is an image of the Self. She needed to stop me from moving out of my process just to make more money. She did this by bringing out the children, both my inner and outer children as well as the other people who needed me. In this way, my psyche sent me a message about what kind of growth was being demanded of me. I needed to mother these inner/outer children, which I wouldn't have done as well if I was concentrating on power and making money. She also implied that learning to live in harmony with the natural cycles and rhythms of my life, waiting to see what new things were growing in me, was more important than forcing the issue. That was hard work for a Father's Daughter!
I have always felt that the main task of psychology is to help people find out who they are; to discover what stories make up their lives. To help them name themselves rather than apply generic collective labels to their talents, or to pressure them into a life they don't want or need to live. Jung calls this process "individuation," meaning the process of learning to live out the demands of the Self. To do this, each of us must find a positive mothering ground within ourselves. Like many Father's Daughters in my generation, I was brought up with the idea that making a mark in the world was more important than being a mother and being a conscious person. But my individuation demanded that I learn the lessons of motherhood rather than the lessons of worldly power. Perhaps those lessons will come in future lifetimes, because what I have learned is that nobody can do everything in one lifetime. And that since the Earth's natural laws teach us that we will return again, I can do the task at hand knowing that those other lessons might already have been learned or will be learned at some future time.
Researchers and psychologists stress the importance of the initial bonding between mother and child, where we gain a sense of ourselves through this primary relationship. It seems the severance of the bond between human beings and nature has created a corresponding severance of the bond between mothers and children. Our mothers were disenfranchised from their feminine roots, so how could they provide us with a firm grounding in our own feminine nature? Instead of being grounded in a sense of our feminine gifts, we have been nurtured on the collective values of the patriarchy, and our grounding is in the shallow soil of outer values and ego-consciousness. We have been brought up in the Father's House. This has led many women to look for and recover our bond to the positive, deep mothering ground of our being.