When I stopped drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes, I had an intuition that a lot of my addiction was related to mothering. It was then I began to explore not only my relationship to my own personal mother but what it is to cultivate a conscious relationship with myself. This is when I first encountered the archetype of the death mother, a representation of the oppression/abuse of the healthy feminine. She is also the shadow side of the Great Mother archetype.
Archetypes are universal energy patterns that humans have experienced through out time. It is also expressed within cultures, as well as personally in each of our lives. This forms the foundation of our internal mother, a combination of universal energetics, cultural expressions and our personal lineage.
The death mother archetype appears in other cultures as an archetype of the soul stealer; the soul ultimately being the feminine, embodied expression of the divine.
When I was finishing my dissertation, I constantly faced a deep frozen paralysis; an inability to trust the unique vision arising within me. It was so hard to say what I wanted to say. I was worried my way of seeing the data was crazy (turns out to be far from it).
I’ve experienced that kind of frozen fear for many, many years when I’d move towards writing or creating or making life affirming leaps forward. That slow steady feeling of frozen paralysis was there. Something bad might happen. I might die. My mind would go blank. I’d “sabotage” myself.
I tried all the things. I came to the resignation that this fear is par for the course in the creative process and that I need to fight my way through it, no matter what it took.
This frozen fear was in fact the grips of the archetypal death mother. She’d pull me back into what was familiar. She’d pull me into my addictions. Into self-doubt and projecting my fear and anger onto others, into myself and destabilize the trust I had in the world.
Death mother often stands between us and reunification with our souls. She’s this great grief that lives inside our systems that we are trained to avoid, even if it means going into trances to ignore it. And, we are all in a trance, especially if we are spending most of our time scrolling, numbing out, checking out or avoiding our real soul work because of the the change and feeling that requires.
Addiction is the antithesis of creativity or life-affirming, soul based work and love.
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.