Renowned author Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes has released a book “Strong Woman” about her experience of the Divine Feminine. I listened to an interview with her on Sounds True, and was struck by her message. This weekend our at Joy or Being retreat Wendy Batchelor will be teaching on the Divine Mother, and how we can welcome Her into our lives.
Dr Estes was brought up as a Catholic, she says “The Catholics have been probably the most proficient at preserving many of her stories about the way that she has manifested on earth. But the Muslims have their story about Holy Mother, Holy Mary. The people who have ideas in Asia about Holy Mother call her Kannon or Quan Yin. She’s called by a million names by six billion people. And she is everything that people say she is, particularly in her protective, burgeoning, life-giving and life-sparing presence.”
Certainly where I visited Wendy in France in June this year there was evidence of a rich culture of honouring the Feminine, either in her guise as the Mother of Jesus, or as his partner Mary Magdalene. The Catholic churches usually have a Madonna statue, perhaps even a Black Madonna, a pregnant Madonna, or glorious teaching windows depicting the value of the feminine.
Dr Estes explains “The characteristic of the Mother archetype is one of creation in the sense of incubation, in the sense of growing something quietly into its great strength and fruition and giving birth to it, bringing it into manifest reality in the world. And then nurturing it, protecting it, teaching it, caring for it, nourishing it, and helping it in every way to live fully alive in a state of love for other—but also in a state of love that comes from one greater than oneself.
Holy Mother is characterized by the conditions that you would find in a good mother on earth, but it has even more magnitude than that. When she is near, people report feeling comforted to the depths of their being. They report often feeling healed of emotional uncalm. They report it is as though a warm hand is placed over their hearts. And the loneliness that they were feeling that has caused such depression in them is healed and taken away. So when the Mother is near, people feel love and are filled with love. When Holy Mother is near, life is valued. And even in the dying, life to the very last moment is still valued.”
We have all felt how strongly the feminine is repressed in our over-the-top masculine culture of greed and rapaciousness, thank heavens the great feminine is stirring and re-emerging amongst us all. Dr Estes continues “I have said many times that the soul in our world is the most endangered species of all the species—in part because, with so many avenues, Holy Mother is left out entirely: in conversation, in the boardroom, in invention, in creation, in commercial endeavors, in private endeavors, in family life, in creative life.”
The Divine Feminine is numinous, omniscient, without beginning or end. “As I understand it, Holy Mother exists everywhere, all at the same time. She is at the center of every heart that is a heart. She’s at the center of every soul that’s a soul. And she is larger than any number of souls that one could possibly put together. As your tuning of your senses is sharpened, as your ability to ask to see, to hear, to feel, to know more than just yourself of the magnitude that is useful and good and holy—you will find yourself having more dreams of Holy Mother.”
We all have our own early experiences of mother, of religion, of God, that shape our perceptions. Perhaps some who were Catholic were fortunate not to be repelled by a restrictive religion that none-the-less offered a relationship with Holy Mother. “Because I went to Catholic school, we were consecrated to Holy Mother at age six, which was maybe first grade or thereabouts. We took vows to her. And we prayed to her and we were taught devotions. We were taught all of her songs. I probably know 50 songs to Maria, May, Miriam, Holy Mother. We made processions for her. We grew flowers just for her—great big chrysanthemums and huge dahlias and wonderful lilacs. We carried them in the May procession just for her, a whole month of devotion just to her. We were little girls in white dirty socks and funny brown shoes, devoted to Holy Mother. A child, I think, understands Holy Mother completely. There are no reasons to have to explain anything because she is love—love, and more love, and more love, and more love—complete love.”
And how do we make contact with this Holy Feminine, in any of her forms? “The Memorare is a prayer that says, “O most Holy Mother, it’s unto you that I flee for your protection, for your love, for your guidance.” The Memorare, which means “remember” in Latin, is the prayer that is both in my writing of this book as well as in the audio work. It is the prayer that I think is all-encompassing because it says, “never was it known that anyone who fled to you, who sought your protection, who sought your intercession, was left unaided.”
This I believe all the way down into my bones: if you call for Holy Mother, she will come. She will comfort you. You will feel it. Maybe a dream will come, maybe a sudden inspiration, maybe a friend will suddenly appear. Maybe a person you’ve known for a long time will say something that’s extremely poignant, helpful, healing, useful to you—but she will come. She will either come in person, or she will come through another individual, or she will come through dreams. She will come through artwork. If you lay your watercolor on the page, she will come. She will come in ways that each individual can best understand her.”
I agree wholeheartedly, call upon the Goddess and She will come to you in any of Her many forms …. just be prepared to recognise her!