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Mother

Mother; we all have one. We were all birthed from our Mother’s womb, whether or not we know her.

Mother; we* will all be one. Whether or not we have have children.

The Mother archetype is the second phase in a woman’s life, following on from the Maiden phase.  Typically, the Mother years span our 30’s, our caring, protecting, nurturing decade when we are in full bloom, where as the Maiden covers years 12 (approx) to 29. This phase is archetypal and embodies the mindset, maturity, emotions and feelings of the “Mother”. Of course, there will be an overlap between the phases for many women as some will be Mothers at 16 years old or not until 45 years old, and some either through choice or otherwise, never become a Mum.

You are the Mother.

The Mother phase may not seem applicable to some as they have chosen not to, or are unable to have children, but that does not rule out the Mother in all of us. She is the Creatrix of life; be that children, career, project, self, garden, however you choose and what ever you create in this life. You are the Mother.

Who is She?

She is a whole host of labels including : Stay At Home mum, Working mum, Pushy mum, Step mum,Tiger mum, Elephant mum, Helicopter mum, Over protective mum, Negligent mum,  Judgmental mum, Holier-than-thou mum, Yummy Mum(my), Slobby mum, Competitive Mum, PTA mum, Earth Mum, Hippie Mum, Teen mum, Old mum, Geriatric (in the UK, pregnant women over the age of 36 are referred to as geriatric…charming) mum, Adopted mum, Child-less woman, IVF mum, Single mum, Busy mum, Absent mum… I’m sure there are 100 more labels that I have missed that could be added. But is that really who she is? I think not.

This phase of our lives is possibly the most judged; we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t! Your choices here are up for discussion and scrutiny whether you like it and know it or not. But why is this the case? Society and of course, Patriarchy.

The role of mother is valued and equally not valued. Our fertile years carry an expectation that we will reproduce whilst at the same time judge us for staying at home to raise our own children or pass comment that we have returned to the workplace instead of being at home.  To stay at home is a luxury as it is seen as not be participating in or contributing to economic growth of the society, yet to work is seen as a fault as we expect the state or strangers to raise our kids whilst we are at work. Its a no win situation. And that is without the gender pay gap the maternity leave wrongfully exacerbates via unscrupulous and manipulative employers. You will of course be no stranger to the fact that this is specific purely to Mothers; Fathers are not subjected to such restrictions, judgments or expectations.

Should you be childfree/childless during these ‘fertile’ years, you are not free from probing questions and judgement either – regardless of how inappropriate or hurtful the interrogation. “My body, my choice, my business – fuck off and mind your own”  is not, however, regarded as a suitable answer by these judgey types. The flow of the caustic opine is purely one way.

Whilst the Mother is pregnant, in current society, she is revered, fawned over and strangers have a desire to touch your ever growing belly, sans permission. A pregnant woman is celebrated. That is until the baby is born, then the focus shifts. This is the time when Mothers are at their most vital, most important, most in need, yet this is the time when your role begins its demise in patriarchal society. You are invisible, unless you are being judged.  Mother is on the pedestal and every expectation not met is a failing to be scorned.

And I am no stranger to judgement; being judged and judging others. It’s not pretty from either side but it’s there and it runs deep. We judge others from our own insecurities and hurt beyond belief when on the receiving end which further fuels the judgement cycle. Or maybe that’s just me.

grieve the loss of our maiden years

Moving from the Maiden to the Mother is not necessarily an easy transition. We are older, with different priorities to our maiden years, many of us have way more responsibilities too. Raising children, caring for parents or other relatives, supporting friends and sisters with their children, birthing and working in careers, starting and building own businesses and countless other responsibilities that tend to fall on us at this time.  With that extra load, it is absolutely necessary to grieve the loss of our maiden years and its freedoms. We wear our tiredness as a badge of honour and medicate with wine or gin. Societal conditioning plays its part here too with the expectation of us to be selfless in the quest to achieve and do it all. There is also the male gaze to contend with, which is kept sustained by the media. It is a damn site harder to maintain the Maiden physique in the Mother years. Our bodies don’t just snap back into their Maiden mould postpartum, because they aren’t supposed to! They are fuller and rounder, plump and juicy like ripe fruit; no longer just a bud. Just like nature. We are a part of nature rather than apart from nature.

Let’s look positively at this phase in our life. There is so much wisdom, joy, celebration and beauty we can get out of these years should we let ourselves open up to receive.

This is the full moon stage of the lunar cycle – full belly, luminous, beautiful and glorious. Fully in protection mode, healing and receiving. Radiant with health and well being, she is captivating. She is a wonder. Magic.

mothermoon

Looking at the menstrual cycle, the Mother phase is ovulation, our inner summer. This is our most fertile time, when we have the most energy and are feeling super charged, super sexy, confident and magnetic. (Ironically, in my Mother phase years, I felt super knackered, super frumpy, insecure, full of doubt and lonely as fuck – more so in the first few years rather than the latter as I had then made friends with an amazing group of beautiful, loving and supportive women!). We are living with the lessons we learned during our Maiden’s journey. We are wiser, older, more aware of who we are and what our values and priorities are.

How can we ensure that the Mother years are the positive experience they ought to be? How to cultivate that supportive and nurturing environment? You just know what I’m going to say… Circle!

THIS is one of those times in life when your circle is your life line. Whether a circle of women you gather with regularly in sacred space, or a specific Mother’s circle, the support is there waiting to hold you when you need it. You can be honest and let out the shadow side without judgement and are encouraged to share ALL aspects of this Mother energy – the good, the bad, the struggles and the victories. The fellow women in circle will have been there or going through it similarly. You also have the opportunity to pay this back when the time comes for other women to need the support. It is connection to peers interwoven between generations and differing experiences. There are are many things we would love to say or admit but can’t coz judgment. And judgement surrounding Mothering or the choice not to become a “Mother” is one of the worst and most deeply felt. Personally, had I had the circle in place back when I entered the Mother phase, my own journey would have been dramatically different. I know that to be a fact.

What was my experience was that this phase was my loneliest in my life.  I went from being confident and self assured at 31, to birthing my son and experiencing a 180 degree flip in my personality. When I needed support the most, when at the most vulnerable and lost, self conscious and lacking in self confidence and ability to be the Mother I wanted to be, I was without the support I needed. The friends I had had were gone, and I didn’t initially have the confidence to make more, for a good few of years.  I had my Mum and Mother in Law, both of whom were supportive in their own way, but these 2 women did not a circle make. But once I started believing in myself again and my capabilities, forcing myself out to meet new people – and finding the right ones – my life changed. My group of friends in my circle are treasured and invaluable, not just to me but to one another – our support is collective and given amongst  each other as needed.

Just think what the Mother years would look like if circles where caring, sharing and supporting each other were the norm rather than the judgement and criticism faced in isolation.

The village raises the child.  The circle honours the woman.

(Lissa  ~ Wild Sister Rising)

*The we here refers to CIS women, as this is my frame of reference and understanding.

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40

I’ve taken my 40th jaunt around the sun.

My 30s are now behind me with my 20s now a memory.

I’ve hit “mid life”.

I’ve never looked forwards to a birthday more!

And it didn’t disappoint!!

Yes, it is just another number but to me it’s more than that. It feels like a complete new start; the dawn of the next phase in this life cycle. The Wild Woman phase, the Enchantress, the Medicine Woman, the Mage. Call it what you will, but our 40’s represent the journey into the Autumn years of life, the peri-menopausal years transitioning from our fertile mothering  years into that second puberty where we connect truly with who we are as women, owning our own person.  Of course not every woman takes until she’s 40 to reach this place of knowing herself, but I have, and have been on this journey for a long time.

In honour of such a milestone birthday I gathered my sisters in sacred circle and celebrated a beautiful and emotional time.  Nine of us sat in my livingroom and shared in stories, meditation, crafting, poetry, song, food and ritual. I felt incredibly blessed as my friend led the ceremony of leaving my thirties, with it’s lessons, regrets, achievements and acknowledgements, moving forward to face and embrace any fears of growing older (I have none, I LOVE this aging process and with the wisdom it brings as well as the grey hairs aka wisdom highlights!) and set intentions for this coming stage of my life. My women in my clan of choice also set intentions and wishes for me, which of course were burnt to release said intentions in the central cauldron.  My good old broom was put to good use in symbolically clearing away the old to make space for the new and with a twist on the the matrimonial jumping of the broom, I jumped my broom to cross over into this new phase and exciting times ahead.  Not a typical 40th birthday celebration, but a deeply felt one.

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As well as Circling, the other 40th biggie, was a gift to myself  (also from my 8yo as he wanted to gift it to me). I have wanted a new tattoo for a while and had a rough idea of what I wanted and the symbolism it needed to contain, but an inability to put it all together. I contacted the only artist I knew who would be able to create exactly what I wanted and as expected, it is stunning.

So I got my Goddess Butterfly with the moon and pearls and lace detail that I needed. I don’t think it is possible to love this tattoo more! The detail and artistry is exquisite – and no, it didn’t hurt. Having Fleetwood Mac playing in the background (love Fleetwood Mac) was an added bonus. Thank you Aphra x

Of course, no birthday is complete without cake….

cake

especially CHEESE CAKE!!!! My Mum pulled a blinder on the cake front this year. I had the chocolate & raspberry slice but when went back later, discovered Scottish Tablet flavour….Oh My Goddess, I have never tasted cheesecake so good!!!!

So far, this being 40 malarkay is proving to ace the 30’s – long may that continue.

Lissa

xx

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The Power Of Circle

Wild SisterRising

The power of Circle is in its structure; its completeness and wholeness. It is the vessel that holds all the juices of life that each person within that Circle brings. The joy, the tears, the laughter, the love, the truths, the challenges, all held and contained within the Circle. There is its power and strength.

Circle mantra is always What’s shared in Circle stays in Circle.

If you have already read my previous blog post about Circles or have attended Circles yourself you will already know what I am talking about. But if this is new to you, a Women’s Circle or Sacred Sister Circle (or any other name given to it) is a dedicated space for women to come together, to share in each other’s lives with their stories, truths, real feelings, to be heard and supported but not judged. Its a place to learn from one another, to grow, to know (yourself) and just take some time out for you, to reflect, be inspired and develop friendships.

Women gathering in circle is a tradition as old as time, but a tradition destroyed over the many years by the Patriarchy, who succeeded in their mission to turn women against each other in competition rather than supporting each other as previous generations had done, where daughters learned from their mothers, aunts, older friends and grandmothers. Wisdom was passed down though generations, about what it was to be a woman; menstruation, birth, raising children, being a wife as well as a sovereign being. Skills shared and learned. This was the village. Women were respected, the elder women revered. They had knowledge, abilities and each other;  they held the community together. There is an old Native American saying that states :

To destroy a village, destroy the moon lodge.

The moon lodge was the women’s sacred Circle, their menstrual lodge, where they gathered. Not a menstrual hut where the women were cast out of the community until their dirty bleed was over, as per what happens in some countries today, but honoured as a special and sacred time. Time to rest, eat well, and restore themselves for the following month ahead. During a women’s bleeding time, it was believed that she was closer to the Divine and therefore was powerful and wise.

Thankfully circles are enjoying a resurgence and are currently back in vogue, where I hope they will remain. There are so many different types of Circles popping up and taking place regularly, especially in the West. I have been to a general Women’s Circle where the women present spanned the generations of maiden / mother /crone and the discussion was rich because of it. A Mother’s Circle where it was incredibly healing to know that we as mothers, while we may have different styles of parenting, all share so many similar experiences and emotions. It was a real tonic for those mothering wobbles we rarely admit to with others. A Full Moon Circle where we were letting go of what no longer served us – it was incredibly cathartic and whilst we met with our shadow (hidden) selves it was such a joyful experience.

Other types of circles taking place are New Moon Circles, Mother~Daughter Circles, Sacred Sister Circles, Monthly Circles, Weekly Circles, Red Tent and Moon Lodge Circles, Covens even, plus a wheen more. You may think you have never been to a circle before, but have you ever been to a baby shower – sharing your own birth experience or parenting tips with the Mother-to-be? A hen night – sharing and celebrating stories of marriage with its ups and downs, passing on advice and lived experience? Sat around a campfire chatting and telling stories? A group meeting where generally discussion happens in the round? These too, are Circles of a sort. Granted, not a  gathering whose purpose is for going soul deep, but a deliberate coming together nonetheless.

fire

You might wonder whether you need to go to a circle or what the point of going would be when you have already found your “tribe”, so to speak. You already have close knit circle of friends who offer support, solidarity, advice, fun and friendship spanning years of shared experiences. Great, that’s wonderful and something that many people don’t actually have, or at least not on that level. But consider how else a regular Circle may enrich your life? There is a reason that Circles are having their moment now. There is a soul deep longing for the village, for cross generation wisdom and teachings and relearning, for connection with community and like minds, for confidence in rising up and reclaiming our place in society out from the shadows of the Patriacrchy,  and being authentic and true to who we are/want to be rather than who are supposed to be. For some people that is scary and they need the sisterhood.

Circles are the AntiBitch

I have been told that Circle’s cant work as women are too bitchy / catty / competitive / judgemental / name another label that keeps pitting women against women. THIS in itself is a reason FOR Circles. Circles are the AntiBitch.  They foster belonging, connection and nourishment (for the soul and the body – tea and chocolate anyone?).  Friendships founded in a shared bond, respect, understanding and being honest, raw, seen, heard and held. Not everyone has to like everyone else, as is the way in life, but there remains a connection, the belonging to and understanding the Circle and its members. The power of Circle.

If you feel excited to Circle with women, either your mates or looking for like minded women but not sure where to find them, either set up your own Circle or find one in your town or city, I guarantee there will be Circle’s happening in local community centres or more probably in people’s living rooms (where all the circles I have attended or hosted have taken place).

The power and strength of a regular Circle is so restorative and I’d say, vital, to our health and well being that I will be hosting more Circle’s this year. If you are not able to join in person, I also have the online circle on Facebook (its a private group so keeping with the “What’s shared in Circle stays in Circle” ethos – click to join and I will approve your request) where you can join the conversations or start new ones.

Circle of Women

Blessings

Lx