In our current culture, people often talk about the loss of meaning and importance to special times, days and rituals. Whether it be the Peace and Kindness message of Christmas, True Love at Valentine’s Day, or loving our mother on Mother’s Day, there is a shared ownership of special days between the stores, Hallmark and Pinterest (search any event and find out how you can make your special day better with table decorations and a DIY wreath).
I think about this often : like : every time one of these special days comes up. Most of them, including Mother’s Day, we don’t celebrate at all in our house. Choosing to live an integrated life of Rhythm means special days with arbitrary dates just don’t do it for me. I don’t seek a new pair of slippers or “time to myself” for one day a year.
That doesn’t actually mean we have no special occasions. We have developed our own versions over time, perhaps not quite as passionately as Captain Fantastic (no Noam Chomsky Day here, although maybe it’s not such a bad idea…) In a world of Self Crafting, my celebrations revolve around the Rhythm of Life. The juicy meaning of special occasions are worked into the fabric of our lives. We removed Easter a long time ago, because there’s this time in the Rhythm called Spring instead. We have changed Xmas and we do our own special thing at Midwinter. It’s one of my many fuck-yous to the superficial mainstream, and I call it creating a life that sets me free.
The seasons are a reflection of the individual inner shamanic world : the Rhythm of Life is more than my life, your life; it’s All Life. Longer or shorter days remind us to hold both halves of ourSelf equally. We travel in and out of an ever changing cycle.
In summer there is more energy, more intensity, more Outer space. As there is an outer focus, so too must there be an Inner world that pulls us deeply within (winter). There’s no more or less “time” at any stage of the year. We still have 24 hours each “day” yet the way we use that time requires a different focus depending on the light and darkness.
So at the time of the year that our culture calls ‘Mother’s Day’ (here in the Southern Hemisphere), winter has begun to draw us inward, inviting us to revel in the dark, to find space for deep self care in ways that don’t include late night celebrations and early morning exercise programs. As we come closer to midwinter I personally find the shorter days make balancing mama/wife/bizlady life more difficult. Not only are there less hours of daylight, the hours of the mornings are ice-covered – and my chooks reflect this truth with a zero egg policy! In all ways, the time into winter is the opposite of the emergence of spring.
Living with the wellness principles of “what did the ancestors do?” means when there is less light, some things simply require letting go, stepping inward, holding in the darkness. Now, like Koré in the equinox myth, we are invited to re-member the deep wisdom of body and soul, invited to take our place next to the Heka Wise Woman, and know thyself in the dark.
In a culture that still lived under the guidance of the “what would the ancestors do?” wellness principles, a culture that understood and lived by the Rhythm of Life, humans developed an internal pathway of being The One Who Emerges From The Dark. This would have been a foundational building block in the herstory of a life that was lived through Rites of Passage and the work of holding all parts, all seasons of the Self equal. In our own indigenous culture, however far back that existed, our ancestors knew how to live with these shamanic principles, and knew that to live in this way was to be a part of All Life.
Rites of Passage occur at many times throughout our lives. Perhaps we recognise the most obvious for a woman as those that centralise menarche/menstruation, childbirth, menopause and death. There are many in between – starting school or a job, retirement, breaking down of relationships… a Rite of Passage is what happens when an individual dies to the Self they know, in order to become the One that they have always known they be, though have not yet been. It’s okay. Go back and read that line a few times if you need to. I learned the concept from Petra Lentz-Snow, and every time I frame Rites of Passage thus, it opens deeper layers of my own awareness.
Here’s the thing with Mother’s Day. Our culture has this arbitrary day for celebrating mothers, without yet celebrating the woman she first became, and in doing so we have some very dysfunctional relationships. In our ancestors’ time, a girl became a woman when she received her first blood. She went from standing amongst the children, advised and directed, and part of the growing ones, to entering the Mysteries in order to stand alongside the adults (and her own parents), with her own Vision, own Wisdom and own Journey. With the acknowledgement of her blood and the acceptance of her community, she became Woman. She became The One Who Emerges From The Dark. She was celebrated for understanding the Rhythms, she received the wisdom of Self Care and nurture; how to hold all of her parts equally.
In our modern culture, we have forgotten how to welcome and accept young people as the Ones Who Become/Emerge. Instead, we call them adolescents, and use words like “hormones” and “puberty” and worry about them being “depressed.” Our culture does not welcome the dark, and our young people miss out on learning it’s Wisdom. Girls rarely visit the Heka wisdom as Kore was able to do. Instead of growing up to be women who can hold all seasons of Self equally; Women Unto Self, our girls often grow up to be mothers who use phrases such as “incomplete,” “overwhelmed,” and “never have time for myself.”
Relationships between mothers and daughters suffer symptoms too. Without a meaningful shift between the worlds of child/adult, our children do not know when/how to take their own Wisdom Unto Self. We witness young people rebelling with a need to “show them I’m me” while parents do not know how to let go of playing the advisor role. Young people choose risk taking activities as a role-play of breaking away, while parents play the role of too much : too much advice, too much soccer mumming, too much giving, too much “no time for myself.” As I heard Gretchen Rubin’s dad quoted : there’s a time as a parent when we have to move from being the advisor to the cheer leader. Without the ancient signals that our species have practiced for ever (Rites of Passage), it’s difficult for most parents to know that time.
Many adult women carry a loss and pain that there are no words for, yet is always there. It manifests in various ways that I call “wounds of woman”. In one woman the wounds are shown in her relationships with other women (competition, aggression). In another it will be health related (PMS, endometriosis, etc.) and yet, another will show up in the way she does or doesn’t appear in the world (body image, eating disorders etc.), or how she creates for the rest of her life (childbirth, projects, career). It will be apparent in her successes and ‘failures.’ It will be everywhere she goes and the world will simply call it ‘normal.’
It’s my vision that the ‘wounds’ that are carried at this time by women in our culture do not get named ‘normal.’ It is my vision that we call them out for what they are : traumas that have been holding women in the place of child, (infantilising in body, mind and soul) never allowing her to stand as one who is wise, holding her back for judgment and oppression, in a space of loss that she cannot name, because she has never known any other.
How do we heal this great chasm in our Woman Soul Journey? How do we become the woman who knows the wisdom of emergence from the dark and the light? How do we foster the Woman Unto HerSelf?
As adult women, far into our journeys as grown-ups, whether we are mothers or career women or whatever other label we have picked up along the way, we cannot go back in time. There is no way to return to the time of Menarche and live our Rites of Passage. I do believe however, that there is a way to heal the loss we have embodied due to not experiencing a guided Rite of Passage when we came of age. I call the work Woman Soul, and it is the work of learning to hold and emerge from the light and the dark within Self, equally.
The Woman Soul event is scheduled for the time of the year when the winter is becoming. It is a work of individual processing and community integration. It is a work of visiting with the Self, letting go, stepping inward, holding in the dark, and emerging…
You might think of it as a work of Mother’s Day. Where the honouring of “Mother” is ritualised by the moving away and emergence from under her apron, becoming One Who Emerges, to embody the holding of all our parts equally, Unto Self. In so doing, we honour our selves and the adults who raised us by taking up our own mantle of responsibility, coming to know the Wisdom of the passages of the Rhythm of Life, the stories that are told through the seasons by the mother of us all; Earth, our grandmother; Moon, and our great grandma; Sun.
Now then, with that frame, I am able to find meaning in a special day for Mothers. Beyond the superficiality of a pair of slippers and “time to myself” is now a story of owning our own reality, of emerging from the family unit and re-membering Self in order to honour where we have once been. When we have experienced the ritualisation of standing alongside the adults, it becomes natural to acknowledge not only who we are, but who they are in their own unique Self too. With that frame, perhaps Mother’s Day has a reason for existing afterall. Perhaps I’ll go plant some white carnations…
The article Emerging equally for Mother’s Day was published by Hollie B., for the Institute for Self Crafting.
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