We have all, at some point in our lives, come across some symbol, some behavior, some prototype that sang to our very being as just being RIGHT. Perhaps it was something that personified a concept, someone that lived up to an ideal, or some idea that just fit perfectly in your view of the world. But why is this so?
Is it something in our soul, or our collective consciousness that creates and then recognizes these things? The psychology of Jung believes so, as did Plato and many other mythologists, philosophers, and religious leaders.
Certainly the archetype of motherhood has been a well-hashed idea and ideal, from ancient societies to the present day. Mother Goddess sculptures are among the most ancient and primeval forms of Paleolithic art, and we cannot help but recognize in them what they represent – motherhood, nurturing, the creation of life – despite the fact we cannot speak to those long-dead artists.
What is the archetypal mother? She is a creator of life, certainly. She is someone with the bounty of the earth, a nurturer, a care-giver, a mentor. There are many examples of these in mythologies throughout the world. Hathor and Isis in Ancient Egypt are the center of many mother myths. Pachamama for the Incas, before the Catholics transmuted her into the Virgin Mary, was matron. The Madonna in Christianity is well known for her nurturing, and is often entreated for such. Demeter was the Harvest Goddess for the Greeks, while the primordial Gaia was the very earth that gave all life. In Celtic myths, Danu was the mother of the Gods, and the Tuatha dé Danann were, literally, the people of Danu. The protective power of the mother in Hinduism is shown in Durga.
It seems like every culture in history may have had some sort of mother goddess, and why not? The mystery of the creation of life is still unsolved by modern science. While we understand the mechanics of it, the actual creation of the spark of life is still bathed in mists of ignorance and guesswork. Mysteries have always had the power to intrigue, to titillate. In addition, every person and every creature has a mother. It is a universally shared experience, even if she has passed beyond the veil before we are aware of her. She gave us everything. Why shouldn’t we honor her, worship her power, and beg for her blessings?
My own life is currently filled with the thoughts of motherhood – as a 44-year old trying to get pregnant, it is an almost frantic urge to procreate before it is too late to fulfill this ideal. I am finally in a place in my spiritual and maturity path where I feel that I could be an acceptable mother, if not an ideal one. But I am worried, of course, I waited too long. I feel that my mission in this life may not be completed without giving this gift to another. Many people choose not to be mothers, and more cannot, for some reason or another, physically have a child – but these people can be mothers to others along their path. They can mentor, nurture, or help others along their own rocky paths. It has been in helping others with their crises that I have found my own strength.
Perhaps that is a secret to motherhood – in helping others, you help yourself. It’s not a new concept, it certainly isn’t unique. Another archetype of our time knew it well, and preached it often – Mother Theresa.
I believe that striving for such an ideal can not only be helpful for others on your path, but can help yourself in a very real, spiritual way. You can help in many ways – donate items to the needy, help in the soup kitchen, mentor a young artist, give someone crash space when they are in a transition, offer your wise counsel, be a shoulder to cry on.
If more people did more of this, perhaps our world would, in turn, heal a little, just a little.
Don’t miss information on Celtic myth and history, as well as practical travel planning tips, and hidden places, in my travel books.
– Mythical, Magical, Mystical: A Guide to Hidden Ireland
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