Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Winter Solstice Wise Women Salon: Journeying To The Great Mother

Winter Solstice Wise Women Salon:
Journeying To The Great Mother

Venus of Laussel

The Great Mother was once worshiped around the world before our patriarchal ancestors relegated her to be a 'handmaiden of the Lord'. Since then, women have been given second-class status and our one means of gaining respect in the world was through our ability to have children. And even then, mothers are seen as the root cause of many of our modern psychological problems, because patriarchal controls forced mothers to lose their connection to their own soulful wisdom of life. Growing up in the 60s, the last thing I wanted to do was to be like my mother. Patriarchy had turned me and most women into Father's Daughters, women who stood for the masculine in all things. 
The feminist movement in the 60s-70s concentrated on our outer equality with men—and you can see that it still hasn't achieved those goals after 50 years. Women wanted to work alongside men and find their own independence, often choosing work over having children. But the shadow side of that movement was to devalue women who wanted to be mothers. That's the patriarchy at work in the feminist movement. But once women decided on having children along with working, things changed. Women changed. We combined our knowledge and independence to reclaim our lost feminine wisdom. Actual motherhood as well as learning to mother ourselves reconnected us with our lost wisdom. It is through the Mother that Life and Light grow as well as taking us back into her embrace when we meet death. The Great Mother takes away our fear of death and gives us joy in life.
Psychologically, mother represents the matrix out of which we grow into ourselves, the unconscious roots of our being. Mother symbolizes our Soul. But in our modern society, soul was unimportant and unrecognized in our march toward continual progress. Thankfully, we have come to realize that our patriarchal view of life is dying and women are leaving those rules behind when we can. Once women re-member and reclaim our deep relationship to the Great Mother, we connect to life on a soulful level. Motherhood is no longer confined to just the physical realm but is also understood as the creative matrix of our lives. Women are learning to mother ourselves into Being
As an archetypal energy, the Great Mother is our ability to love ourselves and to find ourselves worthy of being alive just as we are. You would think that being ourselves is easy, but patriarchy has made even that hard. That's why we are more used to the Negative Mother, the witch who tells us we are not worthy of life. We grow up with so many rules that try to shape us to the needs of our culture that we lose our connection to our souls early on. Children are so precious because they haven't learned the rules yet, and so they operate out of their instinctual nature. All too soon we try to cut them off from that nature to make sure they'll 'fit' into a job and assume their responsibility—to make money and pay taxes and continue the human race. 
We see this in all the fairy tales about the evil queen or stepmother who tries to kill our goodness, our kindness, our innocence, our sexuality. Fairy tales such as Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel show us what happens to us when the negative mother complex has us in its grip. (I especially love the scene in the Disney version of Rapunzel called Tangled where Rapunzel thinks she's bad for leaving her tower. It's priceless.) We feel unworthy to engage in life because we are not beautiful enough, thin enough, humble enough to satisfy patriarchy's demands. We are too strong, too intelligent, too emotional. Women have found out that we are never enough, especially when we are being most ourselves. It is not a man who comes to our rescue though. It is our own intent, our own authority that frees us.
The Great Mother archetype wants us to 'be ourselves', whatever that might turn out to be. Which means we Father's Daughters have to leave our father's house behind and find our own authority. There is a Grimm's fairy tale call Allerleirauh or Of Many Types of Fur about how we do that. In this fairy tale, the King wants to marry his own daughter! That's patriarchy for you. Psychologically, this means that the daughter never gets to choose her own path but must do as the father says. She stays tied to the Father and never is free. Psychologically, the archetypal Father represents our bridge to the outer world. A good father helps us be ourselves and achieve what we feel we need to achieve. A negative father insists on us doing what he says! Or else this negative father complex in us sabotages our efforts to achieve our goals in the world. But either way, we stay tied to the Father's realm of rationality, competition and power. 
But this princess is feisty and smart. Before she agrees to his demands, she demands that her father must provide her with all the consciousness and knowledge in his kingdom as well as 'a bit of fur from every animal in the forest' to be made into a mantle. When the king's subjects deliver the goods, this princess takes her knowledge and covers herself in her fur mantle and runs away into the forest---forests being the place of initiation and testing and growth. She lives in her instinctual mantel of fur and finds her own inner masculine focus and intent and works to embody the knowledge she has gotten so that it becomes wisdom. When she has accomplished that, she is free to be the woman she was meant to be.
This is our task now. We leave the Father's House by embracing our own right-brain feminine gifts and using our left-brain intelligence to hone our skills. The first and foremost gift is our ability to give birth—not just physically but emotionally, spiritually and intellectually. And the first step is to give birth to our true Self. We do this by loving ourselves and knowing we are worthy of whatever it is our soul desires. We just have to leave all the old, really boring patriarchal desires in Hecate's Cauldron and allow our guts and our hearts to speak to our minds.

Now it's time for stories!

Symbolic language is the language of Mother Earth. The Creative Imagination is the cauldron of creation. We access both through our feminine right-brain images. Out of these images our imagination creates stories, stories that give meaning to our lives. Stories are the teaching tools of Mother Earth because they speak to our hearts. We name ourselves through the stories we believe in.
So, here are a few creation/birth stories for us to ponder in our hearts. So many of our religious Creation stories start with a male deity, but how can this be if it is Woman who gives birth? Originally, when the Goddess was revered, creation was a birth. Take one or all of these stories to heart, because women today are being called upon to birth a new society. Let these goddesses be our guides.

Earth Rise

So much of our western culture is based in ancient Greece, so let us begin with the Greek creation story.

Hesiod's Theogony states that . . . first there was Chaos, and then appeared "broad-bosomed" Earth, who bore, first of all and as her equal, the starry Sky, Ouranos. Then She bore the great mountains, valleys, plains and the Sea, and after that She mated with Ouranos and bore many children, among whom were the Titans and Titanesses, the ancestors of the Olympian divinities, who represented the 'titanic' forces of the earth. Yet, although Ouranos came every night to mate with his wife, Gaia, from the very beginning he hated the children whom Gaia bore him. As soon as they were born, he hid them and would not let them come out into the light. He hid them in the inward hollows of the Earth, and it is said that he took pleasure in this wicked deed.
The goddess Gaia groaned under this affliction, and felt herself oppressed by her inner burden. Therefore she devised a stratagem. She brought forth gray iron and made a mighty sickle with sharp teeth. Then she took counsel with her sons and daughters, asking who would avenge her for this wicked deed. Only Kronos (Saturn) took courage and agreed to act on her behalf. So Gaia rejoiced, and hid Kronos in the place appointed for the ambush, giving him the sickle and telling him her plan. And when Ouranos came at nightfall, inflamed with love and covering all the Earth, his son thrust out his left hand and seized his father. With his right hand he took the huge sickle, quickly cutting off his father's manhood, and cast it behind his back into the sea.
Gaia received in her womb the blood shed by her spouse, and gave birth to the Erinyes - the strong ones - and to other creatures. The father's genitals fell into the sea, and it mixed with the foam and gave birth to Aphrodite. Since that time, the sky has no longer approached the earth for nightly mating.
Here is a story of Earth creating life out of herself. Out of Gaia comes all of Nature. With the heavens, she creates even more. What can you create out of yourself? What is the story you're creating for your life now as we approach Winter Solstice and the Light's rebirth? What kind of Earth do you want to inhabit?

Another Goddess who creates the world out of herself is the Hopi's Spider Grandmother, Koyangwuti ( koh-kyang-so-woo-tee). 
Grandmother Spider ~ Susan Seddon Boulet
Some say she is the Oldest One—She who weaves the fabric of creation from the center of herself, She who looking into the rich dark abyss yearns form into being.
Spider Grandmother, seeing the silent, empty Earth, desired that joy be born. Mixing earth with the water of her mouth, she sang forth the first beings, weaving, weaving for them a fine cloak of rainbow filament; singing, singing into the fabric of its design the songs of knowledge, the songs of wisdom, the songs of love.
And twins came forth – dancing female, dancing male; they who began the preparing of the human world, forming it beautiful, forming it harmonious, filling it with songs of joy. Do not forget, the people were told: sing, sing praises to creation, sing joy in living. And so singing, may the tops of your heads stay open to the joyous filaments of your connection to the center, to the Self from which you spin.
Spider Grandmother then created from the earth the trees, bushes, flowers, and other plants. She created all kinds of seed-bearers and nut-bearers to clothe the earth, giving to each a life and a name. In the same manner, she created all kinds of birds and animals, molding them out of earth and covering each with her white-substance cape of wisdom, and singing over them.
Four times the people forgot; four times the people fought, four times they spun out destruction; four times the Earth was destroyed, and three times spun again.2 ( 2Barbara Walker, Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, 1983, p. 957.)
This is another story of how we birth ourselves and create our world by the stories we weave. Grandmother Spider is a strong guide for anyone seeking rebirth and creativity. We cannot let the people forget. That is the magic of the North Dakota Water Protectors. They did not forget!
From the Mediterranean a long time ago comes the stotry of Eurynome, who danced on the oceans of birth at the beginning of time.

Eurynome was born out of the chaos, out of the womb of the primal seas. She was born on the heaves of the Great Mother, whose belly moved with the tides of all possibilities.
In the foam of the creating waves, Eurynome danced. She danced and she danced until she felt the winds moving, moving, the waves of her body. Like a great snake, the winds moved through her body until she crested like the waves and flew in the white rainbow light. She flew as a dove. She flew in the mists above the moving ocean. She flew in the currents, circling, until from her an egg was born.
The winds rose and like a serpant wrapped around the egg, seven times coiling and moving around the egg of life. In the rocking of the eternal seas, cradled by the winds of desire, the egg hatched and all creation was born – the stars and moon and sun and sky; the mountains and rivers and earth; the animals and birds and fishes and the people.3 (Gwendolyn Endicott, The Spinning Wheel, 1994, p. 64.)
Eurynome is an ancient Snake-Bird Goddess, wise in the ways of heaven and earth. She knows that it is desire which stirs creativity. Desire and spiritual bliss are united in this cosmic dance, therefore Eurynome's desire does not overwhelm her. Rather she births something new with it. This is the creative matrix of life.
Mary and Christ Child
Now let's jump to the Divine Mother appearing as a human being who births the divine Son. Like Mithra, Dionysus and the Buddha who had human mothers, Jesus Christ had a human mother. Mother Mary was a virgin—who belonged to no man—when she got pregnant. Whether she was a Temple maiden or priestess of the Goddess, she was the Mother who gave birth to a Savior.  Before she was human, Mary was probably an aspect of the Middle Eastern Moon goddess--therefore a Creator.  She was worshiped by Catholics as Moon of the Church, Star of the Sea (Stella Maris), confirming her heavenly nature.  As a woman, when Mary is confronted by the messenger of heaven, Gabriel, she agrees to create out of herself the God's Son.  Mary, as Mother of God, is therefore the Womb of Creation as well, so she also bestows rebirth upon us.  She is the Mother of Compassion and Mercy, who comforts us in times of need. All that any child would want or need.  The Wise Mother, who helps us open to our creativity by gestating and birthing our Spiritual Purpose. 

Unexpectedly and beautifully, through time the Great Goddess of Life and her powers became available to a human Woman. Later stories of Mary Magdalene and her children with Jesus Christ gave rise to the stories of the Sangreal or the Royal Blood—or the Holy Grail. The story of Divinity is becoming the story of humanity becoming divine.

The last story of the Divine Mother that we need to take into our hearts is the story of Lady Wisdom as Divine Mother. This is a story about how Conscious Woman is birthing a new paradigm of life. Women are the ones who will change the world. Believe it!

We find this story in the Christian Book of Revelations, a strange, visionary book describing the changing of the Ages. This one image speaks to us in ways the author probably never intended.
Woman Clothed With the Sun ~ Elana Gibeault

A great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery. And another portent appeared in heaven; behold, a great red dragon. . . And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, that he might devour her child when she brought it forth; she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God. . .
Now war arose in heaven. . .and the great dragon was thrown down.
And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had borne the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle that she might fly from the serpent. . .
Revelation 12: 1-6, 7-9, 13-14.

This image is our call to Cosmic Motherhood. This is the image of a conscious woman—not a goddess, a woman alone without a mate. This is Lady Wisdom within us birthing a new Age. This is you and this is me and this is the purpose of every woman in the world. But first we have to shake off patriarchy and its demands like Allerleirauh. We have to leave the Father's House and become our own woman. Our labor is long and hard. This is not an easy task we take upon ourselves. 
But there are women all over the world already birthing this new world, stepping forward to defend Mother Earth and their families. Like the grandmothers who are leading the protest at Standing Rock, it is women's purpose to read the energies and the times and understand what they are saying. If we do our work, we will inspire others to help us. But first we have to help ourselves by mothering ourselves, loving ourselves, and believing in ourselves. 
Once you love yourself, you can send your love into the Future, for you are a Grandmother of the Future.

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