Childhood Myths

Childhood Myths

“…and that Mother Earth and Father Sun and Grandmother Universe will take care of us and watch over us…”

That was a line in the prayer my six-year-old gave for our nightly family prayer earlier this week. We go to church every week and my kids get the same standard Primary lessons, but I love how they interpret beliefs for themselves. My daughter has gone to a Waldorf class for over a year now and the teacher likes to tell stories about “Father Sun” and “Mother Earth” and the “star children” (us) who have come down to earth. Earlier this week, we had been discussing the Maya Creation myth and talked about the similarities and differences between it and the Genesis Creation myth. She told me she thinks the Maya myth is wrong and that Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother and Jesus made the earth. I smiled and said that everyone has their own story for how the world was made. While her beliefs have a Mormon base, they have a strand of her own understanding and interpretation.

Mother EarthOn the other hand, my four-year-old believes in a very different vein of Mormonism. Like he’s been taught in Primary, he believes he’ll be with Jesus in heaven after he dies, but that’s not where his vision of the after-life ends. It’s not uncommon for him to start a conversation with, “When I’m born again…” He believes in reincarnation and that after going to heaven, he’ll be reborn back to earth.

Both my daughter’s and son’s beliefs tickle me a lot. It’s amazing to see how the same teachings are interpreted through the minds of children. I know some parents would be quick to “correct” these sorts of thoughts, but I like giving them space to explore their own spiritualities. Why not believe in Grandmother Universe watching over us? Or that we’ll get another lifetime on earth to be with our loved ones? It reminds me of how I used to ask Heavenly Father to hand the prayer receiver to Heavenly Mother so I could talk with her.

The beliefs of children underscore the human desire to be connected and cared for by someone greater than us and to know that there is something for us after we die. I have one other child, who is too young to really share her beliefs (or have them?) but I look forward to learning what they are and to watch another person try to reach the divine.

Do you remember what your beliefs were when you were little? How have they shaped you? 

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Birthing My Feminine Soul

I lay in the hospital bed with my legs in the stirrups.  I had given birth four times already, but this time I was both the birther and the birthed.  I was done having babies so I was having a simple procedure done to eliminate the monthly struggle that comes with being a woman.  Everything was going fine until my body suddenly reacted negatively to the pain medication.  It started with numb lips.  I asked if that was normal and the next thing I knew I couldn’t talk.  I knew the words and I could move my mouth, but I couldn’t say what I wanted to say.  Soon my consciousness seemed completely disconnected from my body.  I could think rationally and nod my head in response to questions, but I couldn’t speak.  I could only use my body when the function required one step.  I could move my hand, but I couldn’t do anything with it.

My body shook uncontrollably.  “Are you cold?”

I nodded my head.  I didn’t feel cold, but I knew I probably was.

They moved a heater over to me.  “Can you feel that?”

I shook my head.  All of a sudden I started crying uncontrollably.  Then I was laughing.  Worst of all was my inability to speak.  I wanted to shout and scream and let the doctor know that I was fine and I understood what was going on and I felt nothing, and yes, it was okay if they continued on with the procedure.  But I couldn’t say anything and the doctor and nurse had no idea what to do.  Like a newborn baby, my body was not under my control.  I was simply a consciousness in a body that I didn’t feel fully attached to.  I felt that symbolically I had become a baby, much the way I have spiritually become a baby in the last several months.  Once the effects of the medication wore off and I regained control over my body again, I realized how powerless a newborn baby must feel.  No wonder I see sheer delight on the face of my two year old because she just learned to jump.  That ability to master something that we previously had no power over is amazing.

Giving birth can be an empowering experience, but being birthed feels powerless.  Being the birther of my own feminine soul has been empowering, at the same time that it has made me feel powerless.  When we give birth, we take something precious within us, something we have created, nurtured, and hidden inside, and we send it out into the world.  The life we have brought into existence needs a lot of care, patience, and nurturing at first, but once it grows in its ability to control itself, it has the power to change the world.  This is what happens when we give birth to our feminine souls.  This precious life and power that is hidden in us can awaken through birth.  After a time of nurturing, we send it out into the world to awaken the feminine soul of the world.  It is through our individual births and awakenings that we awaken the collective female consciousness and change the world.

Two years earlier I began the labor pains that would bring about the birth of my feminine soul.  I was in labor with my last child.  It was 1am the night before she was born and I couldn’t sleep because the pain was too great.  I went downstairs and turned on the tv, a dangerous prospect at that time of night.  After flipping through half a dozen infomercials, I came to a documentary on health care for women in Afghanistan.  As the pain swelled in my abdomen I watched women giving birth in dirty run down hospitals, most of them having no hope for their baby’s life.  One woman was asked if she was worried, as the doctor tried to resuscitate her premature baby.  Her eyes bore into mine as she said, “No, she will live or she will die.  That’s the way it is.”   I thought about the life within me and the joy that I felt in between contractions, knowing I would soon meet this new little human who would change me.  I wept for the mothers who were bereft of the hope I felt.  I wept for the women who suffered from fistulas, acid burned faces, and painful infections.

These weren’t just some women on the other side of the earth. They were me and I was them.  For a moment we shared the pain and burden of being a woman on this planet, and I was forever transformed by that moment.  I attribute this power of connection to the Divine Feminine, Heavenly Mother in all her glory.  She is the midwife who patiently, lovingly guides us through our labor pains and helps us to birth our own divine feminine souls.  This experience changed my consciousness, but I felt powerless to do anything for my sisters in developing countries.  The next day I went to a brand new hospital and gave birth to a healthy baby girl.  As I looked into her eyes, I saw the beauty and value that existed in her precious gift of life.  Though she was powerless to do anything for herself at that moment, her birth alone had changed the world around her.  Likewise, though I felt powerless to help my sisters who were suffering in other parts of the world, my birth and awakening to a consciousness in which they resided was one small part of changing the world.   As I nurture my feminine voice and power, it will grow into a precious life that I can send into the world to change the feminine soul of the world and empower women everywhere.

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Earth Mother, Part II

Mother Earth - Caitlin Connolly

Mother Earth–Caitlin Connolly      For A Mother Here art and poetry contest

by Alicia

Read Part I here.

I believe that the substance of our bodies comes from the earth.

Maybe we are looking for Mother in too far a distant place, maybe she is here with us. Maybe she opted to come with us through our mortal journey. Maybe her role of loving and protecting and providing for us are evidence of her faithfulness to orderliness and her obedience to righteous principles. I love that scripture that talks about our peace being like the river and our constancy like the waves of the sea (1 Nephi 20: 17-19); that in so emulating Her, we see the face of God. Can God have a female face that looks like rich deep brown furrows of dirt?

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Earth Mother, Part I

by Alicia

I believe that the earth is a spiritual heavenly body.

I am hungry for feminine divinity. I can’t stop looking for Her. Last summer, I went to Montana, with my mom and sister, to participate in the Sun Dance of the Assiniboine Nation. Respect and protocol requires that I reverence the sacredness of that specific ceremony- there are many parallels to Mormon temple rituals within it. Because of that, I won’t go into specific details here, though the history of the Sun Dance is completely fascinating, and testifies of the gospel profoundly. Photography and recording, even talking about the ceremonial events outside the ceremonial grounds is restricted (again, deeply parallel to Mormon temple practice). The ritual was illegal in the United States until the 1978, seen as a threat to American Christian religious culture. Frankly, participation in the rituals there made me believe in the universality of temple ceremony and endowment practice. It helped me to see the deep down American roots of our Mormon practice.

But I digress. I am constantly searching to see the gospel as bigger than Mormonism, and I learned there that God is much larger than Mormon theological practice. On the open face of the Montana prairie, I think I came closer to understanding God as a whole than I ever have in a chapel, or even in the temple. I learned that God speaks Nakoda (the language spoken by the Assiniboine) just as much as God speaks Western American, or Elizabethan Era, Early Modern English. I saw, for the first time, how deeply and fundamentally the heavens and the earth inform one another.

I can’t not think about the lessons that I learned (and continue to learn) through participation in Assiniboine ceremony in a grove of Cottonwood trees close to the Canada border.

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On My First Mother’s Day Weekend

On Saturday evening a loved friend met my babe for the first time. Perhaps because of this, the conversation turned to children, and whether she hopes to have one some day. The answer was yes: one. I told her the thing you say, that if she chooses to have a baby, and is able to have one, that she “will be a great parent.” I said this thing sincerely–completely, completely sincerely. She said the thing that I have never had anyone say. “Do you think you are a great parent?” For what felt like a long time, I could only pause. I could only be silent.

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Heavenly Mother Art and Poetry Contest Winners!

a mother's loveThe A Mother Here Art and Poetry Contest has announced its winners! Check out the website to read the winning poems and see the winning art pieces.  If you go to the online gallery, you can find descriptions of the art pieces by clicking on “artwork descriptions” at the bottom of the page.

I’ll mention a couple of pieces I particularly love. The first place visual arts piece winner, “A Mother’s Love” by Lynde Mott is stunning.  The artist says this about the piece. “The figure appears half opaque/half translucent, even half flesh/ half strong stone statue. This represents my continuing journey in trying to come to know and experience the reality of our Mother in heaven. She is solid and real–yet elusive at times as well.”

Rachel Hunt Steeblik’s “I Dreamed I Wrote Five Poems” captures a new mother’s reflections on Heavenly Mother.  This is one of my favorite sections of the poem.

I.
I searched for my Mother, the way a baby roots
for her mother’s breast, head nuzzling from side to side,
mouth open, ready to suckle. But I was still thirsty.
Then my belly grew, and my breasts grew, and
a ravenous little thing came out. I offer her my milk
without money and without price. My husband
offered it to her once, while I sat beside them on a train.
She pursed her lips against the false nipple,
and stared at me with sad eyes. I wondered then,
if Heavenly Mother walked into another room
so we would take the bottle. I wondered then,
if we are weaned.

As someone who deeply yearns for more discussion and depictions of Heavenly Mother, I am thrilled with the material this contest has generated. We desperately need images and writings that bring Heavenly Mother into the forefront of Mormons’ consciousness, that communicate permission to think about her, pray about her, and bring her into our religious speech. This contest has generated scores of poetry and images that I believe help women to see themselves as gods. What a great gift for Mother’s Day.

Please check out the results of the contest and feel free to share which pieces particularly resonated with you. 

 

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