Sharing Sisterhood Across the Globe

Sister to Sister is a place to renew for women of all cultures, faiths and races. Coretta Scott King said, "Women, if the soul of the Nation is to be saved, I believe we must become its soul." I would like to add "Earth" instead of "Nation." We need to widen the borders and challenge the world to become a better place. Join the conversation.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Woman as Mother

by Anjali Angela Silva

Who am I
As Sister,
Mother,
Daughter,
Friend?
Who am I?

Coming into womanhood, I asked myself this question time and time again. Thus began the personal, internal journey. Throughout my teens and youth, I identified myself as Chicana, Portuguese, Sephardin - an exotic singer/dancer, an indigenous spiritualist, a healer with a strong urge to serve the underserved. The years pass; an initiation into the Tantric spiritual life; a marriage to an Indian man and two children later. The question takes on another form: Who am I as Mother?

Mother, has been my prominent role for the last 13 years. It has been the primary focus and goal from pre-conception to pre-teen years: How will I raise these boys? What education will they receive? What are my goals for them? How do I raise them to be spiritual and conscious beings? As a spiritual woman on the Tantric path, Mother has taken on the form as Universal Mother, Mohiini – mother to all. Indian philosopher, P.R. Sarkar states that in Bengali culture, all females, from newborn to crone, are revered and addressed as mothers, or ‘Ma’. If this were to become a universal social trend, surely violence against women would cease. In his book, The Awakening of Women, he writes:

“In the Vajrayana Buddhist age, the idea first developed that the basic identity of a woman was neither “sister” nor “daughter”, but “mother”. To support this concept, the Vajrayana Buddhist Tantrics used to say that the person whom the newborn baby notices immediately after its birth is neither its sister, its wife, nor its daughter, but its mother. So that on the wider canvas of this universe the identity of a woman, from first to last, was portrayed as a mother.”

This summer, I moved to the mountains of North Carolina to be a part of a yogic community. I am one of a few women living near the brothers land. Here, we have a milking farm, a retreat center, and the beginnings of a sustainable community for women. Late December it snowed and snowed, and what was supposed to be only 4 inches of snow turned out to be 18! Within the first few hours, the power went out, and did not return for nine days. Grandpa came running downstairs, lugging two snow contraptions: a sled and a toboggan.
“Come on boys; let’s go play in the snow!”
Into mother mode I went, “Get on 3 layers of clothes, snow boots, hats and gloves and your winter coats.”
These boys grew up in Houston where winter temperatures are around 50-60 degrees F, thus I received much resistance to bundle up: "It’s not that cold!"
But after a few days of reinforcement, they finally understood.

How is it that mothers hold the intention for keeping children safe and warm? I look around me at the men in my life - strong men, beautiful men, spiritual men, men with so many good qualities. But only mother thinks to keep the children covered and warm; to keep track of them on 100 acres of mountain woods where anything can happen to them; to give them proper nourishment in food and love; to make sure they spend time doing a variety of activities during the day. Mother as Warmth. Mother as Love.

During the four days we were snowed in, I became the keeper of the homestead, “The Pioneer Woman”, as Grandpa said. Having recently watched a demonstration at an old fashioned homestead village, I learned to make a coal bed for cooking. As I chopped vegetables, I thought of the brothers outside, gathering wood, assessing the land, clearing the roads of fallen trees. In great appreciation of all their work, I carefully chose the right salty seasonings for a hearty soup that would warm their bodies and please their senses. Mother as Nurturer.

I was the mother to those boys and men who worked hard to keep us in fire wood and clear the roads. I cooked and cleaned and kept the children in dry clothing throughout the day. It is this consciousness that God has given to us – Woman as Mother.

A week later, my family and I traveled to a spiritual retreat in Missouri. On the way there, I fell sick with extreme anemia. A motherly angel appeared in the form of a curandera; a natural doctor, Ashima. She knew just the thing to do and had brought all of her supplements, needles and wisdom, in her plastic bags. “Take these supplements every morning and drink lots of water. Come stay in my room with me so I can take better care of you.”

And that she did.

She made sure every morning I took my supplements and gave me daily acupuncture treatments that stopped the bleeding and raised my energy. She advised me not to attend the programs – to stay in bed and rest as much as possible until my strength returned. Then, Madre Angel wrote me a long list of things that would help me to heal, and consulted with my own natural doctor. This is mother – one who goes out of her way to help others.

At the same retreat, I noticed a young, single mother struggling to get time away from her baby. I reached out to her and relieved her of her duties several times so that she could attend the meditations. Though I myself was sick, I saw that I could still serve in some small way.

In the West, the concept of Universal Mother is mistaken for martyrism. It is looked down upon by many women. Here, we are given the privilege to explore our masculine side, to ‘do our own thing’, to be individualistic. In the East and in other countries, the quality of mother is valued and highly honored. Being raised in the West of ‘old world’ parentage, I have struggled with balancing the internal question: Who am I as a woman? In this time and space, I am mother – Universal Mother who sees all of humanity as her own, and strives to keep it in my consciousness to serve others. Woman as Mother.

3 comments:

The Peace Hour Blog said...

I know you as a mother extraordinaire and know that the questions you ask help us to all reflect on our lives as women.

Sister said...

Asante Sana/Thyanx for your wonderful indightful thoughtss. U r, I am, we all r the Universal Mother. I now await the Universal Mother music!!!
Peace, Love, & Blessings
sister mama

Jack said...

This has been a fascinating read, thanks. Your story about being snowed in and living a more primitive life for a few days made me think that sometimes we ought to look at natural doctors for out many life problems. The more holistic way of life can prove the edge we need in living a more balanced life. Homeostasis, I believe, if the term for that.