The death mother is an archetypal energy coined first by Jungian analyst Marie Louise von Franz, then elaborated on by Marion Woodman. This energy is so, so very much alive today in this domination heavy culture, as well as in our own bodies.
This energy gets conflated with the darker aspects of the divine feminine and they are not the same thing. Not even in the slightest.
In order to begin to truly liberate the feminine archetypal energies and heal the masculine archetypal energies as well, we must understand the difference and how the death mother rules our unconscious realms.
The death mother is the dark side of the mother, the shadow side that no one talks about. The cold mother. The resentful mother. The mother that didn’t want to have children. The mother who was not mothered herself. The addicted mother. The depressed/anxious mother. The rejecting or abandoning mother. The intruding mother.
The one who did not nurture or nourish or celebrate or love the way we are trained to think mothers are supposed to be. So much so that we think it’s our fault if this was our mother or that we are not worthy of love because she didn’t know what love was.
This enters our hearts in such a deep way that when we have the impulse towards creativity, new endeavors, life transitions, more soul and life affirming expansion, she enters and pulls us back in.
This is addiction and food issues. A search for a nurturing, soothing energy and returning to what we know..the death mother.
In a trauma culture it’s incredibly important to become aware of ways that we make the aftermath of symptoms of trauma wrong. It is not true that the universe only gives us what we can handle. If that were true, trauma woudn’t even be a thing since the very definition of trauma is an experience that is too much for the system to handle, metabolize or make sense of whether it is physical, sexual, emotional or spiritual. (Note that most physical and sexual trauma also involves emotional and spiritual dimensions).
Indifference to the truth creates complacency and shaming of trauma survivors, people suffering with symptoms of trauma like addictions, anxiety, eating disorders or depression. Isolation. We are wired with needs that need to be met by others. If we start to program this out of us, it is supporting trauma at its core. We aren’t supposed to get used to not needing anything from others.
People are not addicted to their trauma. Nervous systems wired via fear because environments were not safe run on adrenaline, which creates a deep feedback loop. There is a deep disconnect to one’s own vital life force energy. It’s not just physical. It’s also emotional, spiritual and impacts the quality of consciousness through which life is perceived.
Awakening out this trauma trance can be quite intense as our whole inner (and outer) world must shift. We must learn that safety and joy are okay, that our own energy is safe because trauma at its most basic level impacts the very way we experience life. That it’s safe to be here in a real way, rather than the mind yelling at the inner one trying to convince it is safe when it doesn’t even know what safe feels like.
Grief is not the same as depression.
Grief is very human and natural. It is the heart’s response to the ever shifting tides of change and movement and rhythms of all things life. It is life force energy moving through as love breaking the heart open, longing to keep the heart open. Making more space for more love and more joy....the more love and joy and pleasure, the more grief, the more we expand into the infinite cycles that exist at the very core of who we are.
Depression is stuck grief.
It is life force energy stuck in the heart, the nervous system and the body. It is literally the oppression of the soul, the pushing down and away the tides of life. It is solidified fear.
It manifests as shame or anxiety sometimes or anger or deep, deep sadness and mistrusting life. The sparkle is gone because it is stuck. All the grief gets turned inwards on the self.
We are not static creatures.
This culture conditions us to be afraid of change.
To be afraid of change is to be afraid of grief.
Fear of the natural cycles of life.
Fear of death and the deep feeling that comes with transformation.
Fear of life changing if we change.
So, these fears can crystallize in our heart space and shut us down.
Let us replace the word “toxic” in our cultural lexicon in reference to the human condition; our collective struggle through layers of suffering. It’s pathologizing. It is psychologically othering in terms of projecting unwanted qualities and experiences outside of ourselves, onto others that we then need to then stay away from.
No one wants to identify with being a toxic person or feel like they have toxicity living inside of them. It’s a substance we want to rid ourselves of immediately in order to not suffer the consequences of being poisonous.
This kind of thinking and labeling is part of how we get addicted to “clearing” out negative energy or thinking anything “negative” or uncomfortable we feel is because of someone else. It is what makes us scared of ourselves, unable to be present or intimate with our own depths.
In your wholeness, you are everything.
You are light and love and darkness and hate. You are anger and rage and the utmost compassion and radiance imaginable.
We are also wounded humans living in a world that not only perpetuates wounding but profits off it. Our culture is not literate in the language of the soul or pain or grief.
So, we other it, project it out into others and make them “toxic” or people that do not serve our highest good. It perpetuates this idea that we are somehow untarnished and other people are the problem. Sometimes it is our very wounding that seeks out people who make us uncomfortable in order to try to get our attention for healing.
What if we replaced this word “toxic” with the word wounded?
Grief is far from one tone. It is as layered, nuanced and complex as our human experience.
We love deeply. Part of the loving is in the inevitable letting go of what we have loved. Letting the love morph, take a different shape that is sometime no shape at all. That’s the part that hurts. That’s the part that makes us afraid to love again.
Grief is love.
It is the power of life and love and spirit urging you to keep your heart open, to keep loving and expanding, including even the lost bits in your mourning. Because, in every mourning, many of the ungrieved pieces arrive to see if your heart will stay open as a way of staking it’s claim on your wholeness.
Grieve what and who and and how something has been lost. Know that some endings are traumatic; deepening the grief with questions the mind wants answered. Let your heart speak to your mind, to let the mind know that now the heart takes over.
Your heart is wise and strong and knows what to do. For its strength is in how deeply you love. This grief is a last act of loving what has been. This last act will change you. Do not let your mind interfere with figuring out facts and figures, next steps or moves to take.
Grieve your relationship to what’s been lost. Our life is a living breathing relationship. Inside and out. Our engagement with life creates these third parties...relationships; the containers in which we whisper and exchange, connect and disconnect, laugh and cry, find exiled parts or birth ourselves into new ways of being.
I've been noticing how much my body contracts whenever I hear anyone say that they are working on clearing their blocks around abundance or that they are “manifesting abundance”.
When did it become a bad thing to just say that you want to make more money? I like the sound of it, like I have a hand in making (creating) money in my life. It feels better.
I'd also really like my relationship with money to feel better.
In our modern culture, our primal survival instincts for having enough food is now tied in to having enough money. Yep. Our ancient programming for staying alive is now deeply, subconsciously connected to money since most of us live in places with an over abundance of what we could call “food.”
We can all have a million affirmations that our mind uses in an attempt to solve the problem of something far deeper. The root of our fear is related to primal survival in a culture set up through power, control and hierarchy where no one is really every safe.
This is patriarchy. It is the negative, old father energy married to the old mother energy conditioned to relate through power earned through an accumulation of resources. Those resrouces now become money and love and light and consciousness. Who has the most resources, shines the brightest light, takes up the most space, has the most energy is the one with the most power.
Dangerous subconscious programming has been happening in the self-help industry for a long time that is very much wrapped up in this exact hierarchal, cultural programming.
If you aren't manifesting money or love or whatever it is you want that it must be because of some "block" you have, which is truly a very subtle way of saying that there is something wrong with you. It also keeps you in an addictive cycle of perpetual self work.
If you were better, more aligned, vibrating at a better frequency, praying in the right way, speaking with the appropriate spiritually conscious language or evolved enough, then all the good things will come to you....as if the universe is a headmaster only rewarding those who get a gold star on their spelling test. It's dangerous and perpetuates a constant state of "not good enough," along with feeding a sense of powerlessness and attacking ourselves to "get it right."
The ego of our culture is co-opting spiritual teachings for it’s own agenda.
Fear based thoughts aren't really a thing. Thoughts aren't "real". But, the fear is. Energy is real. It lives in your body. Your mind responds to energy a particular quality of thoughts. This New Age patriarchal way of valuing rationality and "mind over matter" has us using our minds as weapons against ourselves, even training us to be afraid of our own fear which drives us further into never really understanding or connecting with our innate intelligence, which lives in the body. As long as we live afraid of ourselves, we are trapped in a game that ultimately we all want to be free of. Our culture counts on this being the case.
Our nervous systems are in a perpetual state of fight or flight or freeze. It is our nervous system that informs the quality of our thinking. This is the neural network that links our bodies up as tuning forks to the divine.
If we want to learn how to become free of fear, we need to discover how to live in harmony with our body, which is also living in harmony with nature, our own nature.
Your body, your nervous system, is what is here living, breathing and having this lived experience of life. Not your mind. Part of our recovery as humans is to bring the mind back on board with the body, to bring the masculine principles of energy back into harmony with those of the feminine, of the earth and the body. We have to heal the patriarchal way we relate to ourselves and our inner life.
Your body has stories to tell and energy to release. Anxiety, one expression of fear, is simply projecting all of the unresolved experiences into the future because there is nothing else the body knows. Shame is a complex collection of relational wounds that trigger fear in vulnerable relating that matches the nervous systems blueprints for relationship.
Part of the work I do is to help support clients in learning how to bring their energy back down into their bodies with gentleness and curiosity. Where is the energy getting blocked? What is the story there that wants to be shared? What wants to be felt expressed or known? We enter the sacred chambers of inner wisdom and healing, holding space for the beautiful alchemical process of creating safety for you to come home again. Your mind will automatically follow suit. Life, joy and "positive" thinking will be sustainable, because you will know the lived truth that there are no "low vibrational" emotions, just parts of you that haven't been heard or loved. You are beautiful.
Grief is the first emotion felt upon entering the world. It lives inside the baby’s wail upon separation from union with source; being held in the womb of creation, fed through the umbilical chord attached to the whole universe. Everything experienced in sensory waves, in the union everything is source washing over itself in different ways.
We spend most of our lives, consciously or unconsciously, trying to find our way back to union, to repair this wound of separation while delegating grief to the more obvious times of death, loss and transition.
Grief lives inside the very cells of our human ancestry.
It is the bridge to union within ourselves..union with our soul, union with nature and others, union with life. It is the way back home released layer upon layer when we learn that grief is the energy that breaks us open and releases the tensions held from wounds of the past, beneath fears projected onto the future that are merely unmetabolized pain bits from the past.
Your soul is your vital energy; it is life force expressing itself as you. It is your expression of creation. It is creation expressing itself as you. It is the essence of who you are.
The amount of goodness and beauty and love that you really are is indescribable by any words, in any language.
There is nothing that you cannot transform in your life. There is no reason that life cannot be a wonderful experience for you. There is no need to blame karma or fixed astrology as identity and excuses for suffering and pain or why things aren’t happening.
The Universe is flowing and expressing itself through you, there is nothing that you cannot transmute back into your own divinity. Even your feeling of separation is an embodied experience of this sacred life breathing you. Even shame.
Shame is a liberating pathway back to embodying your innate goodness.
Shame: a complicated experience wrapped up in painful thought cycles fed by deep, often unconscious, unmet needs for love.
It’s relational. In other words, it is something that is triggered in the context of relationships and belonging. It touches us right down to the core of who we are and often cuts us right there at that core. It is the soul wound.
It’s a complex belief system based on the experience that there is something fundamentally wrong with you. It’s the pain of original heartbreak.
It is fear. It is anger. It is all the feels. It is also the cultural air we breathe and water we swim in.
It’s the feeling of unworthiness, of not being enough, not being good enough.
It is misunderstanding the nature of pain, it is having no idea what to do with pain. Pain was there when the seeds of shame got planted. When we feel pain and no one sees it, our emotions are shut down. Caregivers are unhappy or we get in trouble for being in pain or having emotions, being told to stop expressing emotions. We feel the loss of love and attention, and feel hurt or abused or neglected.
It is so common, we just think it is normal. Normal does not mean it is healthy.
Grief is a process that is an inherent part of life. Everything changes and as humans who deeply love and care, it is natural that we grieve for all the different kinds of losses we experience daily and over the course of our lives.
There are three portals in the grieving process. The grief for what has been lost. The grief for the relationship. And, grief for ourselves; for the parts of ourselves we have lost that were attached, identified with, enlivened by, connected to or known through the relationship that was lost, or as a result of relationships that never were.
This last part of the journey is essential for our freedom from ancestral pain, individuating from our lineage, for self-love and to meet the depths of love in our soul.
This last portal of grief, grieving for oneself, is often overlooked, confused or feared. It's different than feeling sorry for ourselves. It is different than wallowing in pain. It is different than trying to fill an empty, existential hole inside of us with stuff or people or other things. In its unmetabolized form, it becomes shame as the mind attempts to work through what our heart needs to release.
It is an act of compassion and love to acknowledge and honor our own pain. The pain of never having what we needed. Never feeling the love we longed for. The loss of not having needs met. The pain of our hearts being neglected, of the disconnection and abandonment of our own inner wounds. Our own soul wounds.
Grief is love. You do not grieve what you do not care about. To grieve for yourself and to acknowledge with love and compassion all that you have survived, this is the third portal of grace and freedom offered by grief.
Mother's day is arriving this weekend, so this I am aware of feeling within myself and all who I am sharing time with in sessions. There is a lot of grief up right now, for the loss of mothers, the mothers we never had but wanted, the pictures of mother we are sold, lost opportunity to become a mother, whether to mother or not, and the mothers we carry inside of our own hearts. Why are we more fearful of approaching our internal pain and allowing ourselves to offer love at the altar of all we have endured and experienced and survived and transformed and lived through?
Part of rising out of the ashes is the letting go through this grief, it is in fact loving all the places that haven't been loved, that have been made long in their longing or wanting or needing. It is offering flowers at the altar of your own heart.
Pay no attention to all the messages about Mother's Day and the pictures media portrays. Take time to honor in the ways that feel right for you, and take time to honor your own heart. It's okay to grieve for yourself. You are here, which means you survived a lot.