On Sunday many of us will be celebrating Mother’s Day, and while I’m always in favor of brunch served by my kids, or a day off from any chores I don’t feel like doing, I’m generally not a fan of these types of commercial holidays. I’ll take your flowers or your all-you-can-eat dim sum, but I think what’s really important is to honor the special people in our lives (moms, dads, siblings, secretaries) each and every day. Of course all this talk of moms inevitably gets me thinking about mothers, but instead of sharing a gift list, or a bunch of last minute DIY ideas, I wanted to explore something more personal. Full disclosure: I’m about to get a little bit woo woo and spiritual here. With Mother’s Day on the horizon, I’d like to share my own journey into the realm of Divine Motherhood.
I was raised Catholic, and though my spiritual path has since enjoyed many twists and turns, I still credit my early religious education with introducing me to the potential for sacred femininity. To a tween-aged me, laying flowers at the feet of the Virgin Mary was as profound and radical as my first listen to Tori Amos’ Little Earthquakes seven years later. I could feel the power in honoring the sacred feminine, and I connected to Mary the Mother and Mary the Magdalene with equal fervor.
What’s sacred femininity? It’s the idea that there is something inherently holy about the parts of our consciousness and our biology linked to the archetypal feminine – the intuitive, nurturing, compassionate, life-giving, the loving. It expands our understanding of religion and spirituality so that we aren’t tied to a very masculine way to talk about god or faith or energy. This sacred feminine business isn’t exclusively for women. In fact, there are many who believe that if all of us embrace both the sacred masculine and feminine equally, we’ll be a more balanced, more harmonious race of beings. For me, it was the most wholly empowering way to celebrate being a woman. My connection to the divine feminine connected me to a power that was molecular-level deep, and untouchable by anyone or anything. Good tool for a gal to have, no?
As I grew into my teenage years I had a long-lasting and toe curling love affair with the neo-pagan movement. I practiced Wicca. I created full moon rituals with my girlfriends where we helped each other heal from bad break ups and manifest exciting job opportunities. I found all of the girl power and self love in this hocus pocus world of nature worship that the media had denied me. I reclaimed power that I thought I had been robbed of by childhood bullies and opportunistic neighborhood perverts. I believed with all of my soul that no matter what people tried to do to me, no matter what kind of self-hate I tried to smother myself with, I was plugged into some kind of awesome power that was bigger than everything I could see and hear. Bigger than me. My courtship with the sacred feminine deepened into a lifelong romance of the soul.
The concept of Divine Motherhood is an extension of sacred femininity. The idea that we all come from a primal life force has been alive and well since humans were able to use their strange and wonderful paws to create little statues for us to find thousands of years later. Archaeologists seem divided between whether those female figures with pendulous breasts and generous hips were holy or not, but I know which side I’m choosing. We all came from a great and mysterious womb. Sure, why not? As I see it, it’s just as likely as any other metaphor about how we came to be. What I think is incredible is that there were similar ‘goddess figures’ found in practically every place our ancient ancestors inhabited; across Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. I get shivers when I think about this incredible commonality. If you like to geek out on this kind of stuff, you will enjoy this link, and this Wiki page.
I don’t think it’s much of a stretch that many belief systems still honor the idea of the very planet we live on as a Great Mother to us all. Mother Earth. Mother Nature. Mother Moon. Grandmother Moon. The tides, the lunar cycle, the changing seasons are all wrapped in sacred feminine mythology that shares threads of stories across multiple cultures, throughout time. These stories of the connection between the feminine and the power of nature and the cosmos are vibrant, perhaps more vibrant than ever, in the face of our modern age of technology and climate change. It’s like the very Earth Herself is speaking to us louder than ever before, and reaching us on a wider scale because of the web of communication we have evolved to create.
Now, my spirituality is a blend of neo-paganism, Buddhism, and a budding passion for astrophysics. I will always be wildly romantic about the ways that humans have tried to reconcile the amazing phenomenon that science is only starting to help us understand. Even though I know there isn’t some epic Lady breathing fire in the core of our planet, there is power in turning within and tapping into our connection with Mother Earth. The Great Mother as a metaphor. If you aren’t big on spirituality, consider the fact that this round orb, constantly in motion in the vastness of the cosmos is sustaining life. All life. Your life. Even the biggest of atheists can take a deep breath and be humbled by the magnitude of such powerful life-giving phenomenon. Put that on a Hallmark card, and I’ll get on board with your holiday!
On Sunday, I’m going to honor all of the motherly beauty that surrounds me. I’m going to radiate maternal warmth and love everywhere I go. My hands are going to get dirty as I plant something in my garden, and I’m going to drink in the sweetness of my children’s sweaty heads at the end of a relaxing day. I’m going to worship every inch of my loving, life-giving body, and do at least one thing that makes it feel really, really good. I’m going to carve out five minutes of mindful gratitude for all of the amazing nurturing and mothering I have witnessed in this life. And then I’m going to do the same on Monday, and Tuesday and every single day that I can after that.