Here we are, entering into the season of celebrating our Mothers, amidst all the birth and renewal of Springtime. So, it’s a perfect time to take a look at our underlying assumptions that drive our values and ways of being. Specifically, with regard to the archetype of Mother, and what that may mean within a larger cultural context.
First, let’s dive into what we really mean when we speak about the Mother Archetype. According to Carl Jung, the archetype of the Mother is first developed within the early childhood psyche. For him, he saw the maternal, motherly ideals as projections onto one’s primary caregiver (regardless of whether or not that individual is one’s biological mother). In sum, Jung established a sense of early childhood awareness of the archetype as one that provides sustenance, care, loving attention and comfort.
In essence, the Mother archetype encompasses all that cherishes and fosters growth, sustains and nurtures life, and breathes attentive awareness toward the surrounding environment.
So, now that we have a more solid understanding of the Mother archetype, let’s go deeper still. What’s beneath all this? If you haven’t gotten the sense from our blog posts yet, we like to navigate the subconscious and bring what’s in the dark out into light. By illuminating some of the beliefs around the Mother, we can work to dismantle the part of us that takes the archetype for granted.
By bringing this out into the open, my hopes and intentions point toward the embodiment and empowerment of Divine feminine energy through a deeper, nuanced understanding. The truth is that many folks have misunderstood the feminine. Through an irrational deduction, folks have generally equated the yin and yang to passive and active. The feminine being the former and the masculine being the latter. Many regard ‘being in your feminine’ as being soft and caring, gentle and unobtrusive.
Altruistic and Holistic Augmentation
In actuality, the feminine couldn’t be further from passive. It’s time we clear some things up. There’s been a big mixup and we now get to augment our understanding. Being ‘in your feminine’ is hardly a passive thing. It requires a lot of energy to be receptive and aware enough to hold a container. Cultivation of this receptivity can take years of refinement and discipline. There is nothing passive about this receptivity; while the feminine is often less associated with ‘action’, there is indeed an action done while holding a container. There is a need for deep work, observation, sense making and continuous calibration in real time.
So, after a brief skim on the surface, how does this feel? Do we think we can adjust our baseline understanding of the feminine Mother archetype? Perhaps we can depart from the active/passive dichotomy and move into recognizing the energetic exchanges that are actually at play. Only then can we truly encounter the depth of love and active compassion the Mother archetype of the feminine has to share.
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In the last post of this series, we covered the second stage of alchemy: dissolution. We also reminded ourselves that it’s important to remain non-attached. At the same time, you will not complete the alchemy process powerfully without uncovering your ‘burning desire’ that drives you towards your goal. Without the attractive force of this desire pulling you, you are in danger of getting lost in the journey of this alchemical transformation. Finding your way out is impossible until a concrete goal emerges.
Into a million pieces
As life continues to throw curve balls, we get thrown out of our normal routine, and start to see what the essence of our life is. Normally, this essence gets drowned in the day-to-day dross of our waking life, and sometimes we access it through the subconscious when we sleep. But overall, we are usually unaware of the influence this essence has on our thoughts, behaviors, habits, and outcomes in life.
When we get out of our normal routine, or try to alter our life in some way (like learning a new habit), it’s not uncommon for anger, resentment, frustration, and depression to emerge. We can often have trouble with emotional boundaries as well, not being sure exactly what we want, which has the unfortunate bonus feature of making us more prone to conflict in our relationships.
Have you ever felt so emotionally fragile like you could burst into a million shards of glass on the ground at any moment? That’s separation.
There is perspective to be gained by separating and distinguishing the parts of our life that often go unnoticed. Human beings are meaning making machines, and we go around constantly making up stories about what others think of us, how otherwise meaningless actions have ruined our day, and what we’re going to do about the past when we act in the future. Most times we are not actually present to (and appreciating) what is!
Taking a moment to see each of those stories for what they are, mental objects that take up time and energy, that drive our thoughts, opinions, and actions. They enable us to move those otherwise subconscious drives to the conscious mind where we can evaluate and choose our relationship with them, rather than be driven by them. Freud was a big proponent of this theory of unconscious drives, and ended up taking it further, forming the concept of the id (or instincts/drives) as opposed to the superego (or conscience), which, from a metaphysical perspective, is necessarily aligned with our Higher Self.
In this stage of alchemy called separation, we separate out the parts of the whole that we were not noticing before, and we look at them. We start to see all kinds of relationships we never saw before. We compare and contrast the different parts of ourselves that make being a human so rewarding, giving color to our experience and rhythm to our steps. We have to have the honesty and integrity required within ourselves to acknowledge those parts of us that we don’t necessarily like before we can move towards wholeness.
Seeing the unseeable
After a particularly nasty breakup with his ex, Riley basically repressed her feelings for a year and it took her awhile to feel open to dating again. Understandably, when she put herself out there to date again, she had all kinds of caveats. “I’m never dating that kind of person again,” she decided. So she evaluated every prospective partner that came into her life from the lens of that list of traits she’d rather like to avoid, lest she find herself in the same position as last year, emotionally bruised and battered, closing herself off again to the happiness she was sure she could find if she just had another (not so crazy) partner.
She had one particularly memorable dating experience where, after dinner, she was feeling particularly attracted to her date, and decided to invite him over to her house for an after dinner aperitif. No sooner had they entered then the comments began. “Oh, what a nice space. I really like your sofa. How long have you lived in this house? Where did you get those curtains?” Riley was beside herself, one of the things on her list was no critical comments, because she felt emotionally shunned by her ex, who was always evaluating and criticizing her. Riley felt like she could never live up to his standard, so she ended the relationship.
Now it was happening all over again, except that it was happening with each person she became close with. Once the intimacy started to increase, she would start to get these comments. First they were relatively innocuous, but then later, there was some tension or even outright conflict. Riley didn’t know how to resolve this recurring issue.
One day, while at coffee with a friend, Riley was detailing how her most recent date wasn’t going to cut it again, when her friend stopped her and leaned over to say, “Riley, don’t you see a pattern here. Whenever you want to get intimate with someone, you immediately close yourself off, which defeats the whole purpose!”
Riley started to look at her most recent dates, and she was flabbergasted. Her friend was right, she always reacted with resistance whenever anyone got close enough to ask her a question that really mattered. She withdrew as soon as people were just getting to know her. This was no way to create a relationship.
Once Riley saw this in her behavior, she was able to catch herself going down that trail, and decided to she her experience differently. “No, he’s not trying to criticize me, he’s just curious because he doesn’t know! I haven’t shared that part of myself with him yet.”
After this, Riley was able to have a relatively long-term relationship again. Though still looking for that life partner, she is enjoying emotionally-fulfilling relationships both with her intimate partners and her friends.
“He [William S Burroughs] has no patience for my kind of neurosis, I know… But since then I’ve been facing my nature full in the face and the result is a purge.”
― Jack Kerouac, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters
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If you read “Will & Grace Part 1 | Divine Masculine,” you were introduced to the idea that polarization is something that happens even in contemporary spirituality, and that one major way this manifests is polarization of the gender principles. In this post, we will explore this further, and touch upon how we can honor the Divine Feminine in our lives (in balance with the Divine Masculine).
The Taoist sages of China, millennia ago, discovered that there are two fundamental forces behind reality. As many of us know, they called these Yin and Yang. The misconception that many Westerners have, however, is that Yin is evil and Yang is good. Perhaps this comes from attempting to understand another system through an Anglo and Christian lens. The Taoists did not associate these forces with good and evil.
Yang is masculine and it is the force that thrusts and shapes. It is hot and radiating. Yang is the quality that penetrates. In its extreme state it is corrosive, but when balanced, Yang is very life-giving.
Yin is the feminine quality, being receptive, flexible, and supple. It is depicted as darkness, but darkness is simply a photonic vacuum which light enters. There is no malicious aspect attached to it, being one half of a dynamic. Likewise, Yin is considered cold, and this is because cold is the emptiness which draws in heat.
THE TRIPLE GODDESS
Old Pagan traditions had rich descriptions of the Divine Feminine. A great way to learn how to incorporate sacred feminine energies into your own life is to run through the trifold nature of the Divine Feminine, metaphorically based on the three main stages of a woman’s life.
The Maiden is the young girl. She is playful, delicate, and creative. The primary trait of the Maiden is a full receptivity to life and other people. Unconditional acceptance and tenderness are natural effects of this. Be open and empathetic – imagine yourself as the person you are interacting with. What might be that person’s hopes and fears, dreams and regrets? See how you can connect with him or her, and how you might share commonalities. What could bring you together?
The Mother is the woman in her prime, nourishing those she cares for. She is fertile, abundant, and loving. She represents the alchemical vessel, from which Life enters and flows forth again. She is the Earth, the field, and the sacred waters. Reflect on the areas in which you are abundant. How can you use that abundance to give to others? Also, in which areas are you resisting being “fertilized” – do you have an energy, trait, or resource that could be activated, but you’re afraid? Perhaps you have ideas for a business, yet no clue how to put them into action. Maybe you have a vacant room, but don’t trust bringing anyone in to rent it out. Think deeply about this, and allow yourself to meet with people and opportunities that could put your stagnant resources to good use.
The Crone is the Wise Woman, the elder. Old in her years, and rich in experience, she intimately knows many mysteries. Her strongest attributes are a well-developed intuition and a subtle understanding about life. It’s as if she is straddling two worlds – the visible and the invisible. She refines the raw empathy of the Maiden, making it a well of vast wisdom. Pay attention to your intuitions and gut feelings. Learn to discern between ego impressions and genuine clairsentience (the difference is that strong emotions, such as fear or anger, often accompany the ego, whereas divine intuition is often pure information with a neutral tone). Record your dreams, and reflect on them. Practice meditation to still your mind and receive direct transmission from Spirit.
These practices are useful for both men and women. It is too much to ask a person to instantly balance the energies of both genders – this can be a lifelong journey. However, by paying attention to an energy you might not be used to, you can achieve greater perspective and more versatility in life. It is a stepping stone to equilibrium.