The first truths are taught to us by our mothers.
They are the truths that support all others; the people I see, the earth at my feet, the plants and trees around me, the sky above, are neutral until given meaning, and the original meaning comes from her. Our mother gives us access to the world. Her beliefs are transferred to us like the formation of our first cells in her womb. We drink the milk from her breast and ingest her emotions, how she sees the world, and how she sees us.
This process happens before we have the consciousness to know that it’s happening. We are utterly dependent on this information to understand our world. We must have it just as we must have her milk. And then, worse yet, we forget. It is staggering how important this is. No wonder, we, both men and women, are both enraptured and frightened of the feminine. She does, in fact, have the greatest power. As the Indian Vedas say, She is the creator and the destroyer.
In the beginning, we see the world through our mother’s eyes not ours.
If we’re lucky enough to have a ‘good’ mother, she will also teach us to believe in ourselves; to find our own answers that may be different than hers; to constantly seek our own experience and meaning. In other words, she will point us back to ourselves, freeing us from the limitations of her mind and into the vastness of our own; she will nurture the creation of our own selves.
If we’re not so lucky and have a ‘bad’ mother (by bad I’m referring to a person whose limitations prevent them from nurturing our individuality) All of the above will happen, however, she will not point us back to ourselves. Instead of nurturing our unique world view, she will destroy it, insisting that hers is the correct way to see.
Fortunately, that’s not the end of the story. Our personal mother is not the only feminine force in the universe. As important as she is to our early life, many people with ‘bad’ mothers naturally turn toward Mother Nature.
A story I’ve heard over and over again from clients with difficult early home lives, is that they found such solace in nature; trees, birds, insects, animals, rivers, all became their friends where they would go to feel some aspect of nurturance. Because nature is not personal their needs for self awareness could not be satisfied, but they did feel momentarily better.
One of my earliest memories serves as an example:
I was five and had been following the creek down the side of the mountain, jumping from rock to rock in and out of quaking aspen that bent in close and, somewhere, sometime unbeknownst to me, led away from the cabin where I was staying with my mother, father and little brother. It led to a morning full of meadow.
I remembered the names of Columbine and Indian Paintbrush that I found there, but they were only a few among a myriad of other, as yet, unnamed mountain flowers and grasses that smelled both sour and sweet. It was beautiful beyond imagining. I thought that the many drops of lingering dew captured in the plants had been left by the stars the night before.
I was entrance, but also, realized I was lost. Suddenly I saw a fawn and its mother. I held my breath. The grasses came above the fawn’s legs as she pranced behind her mother. She didn’t know yet that her mother’s power was not hers. She owned it all. More than anything, I wanted to follow them across that wide expanse of wet wild wonder; that green and purple field of love, where snaking creek waters gurgled, murmuring soft phrases of reassurance.
As the doe ran ahead, the fawn followed, a delighted shadow yet to be solid in her own right. When the mother stopped and turned her head to her child, I saw her eyes; brown orbs of everything. I got up from where I’d collapsed on a piece of granite and ran toward them, but before I could catch up, the doe bounded through the barrier of trees, and her fawn, stopping a moment to feel me behind, leapt also.
At the spot where they’d disappeared, I found the creek. I knew if I followed the creek, I’d find our cabin. They’d showed me how to get back. I never told my parents about the meadow; I already knew they would take it from me.
The memory of that experience was so important to me as a child, I thought about it hundreds of times and would remember the details as clearly as I was able. Most summers our family returned to this place in the High Sierra’s of California. The first thing I would do when we arrived was to go in search of my lost place. I never found it again. As I grew older, I doubted that it had ever happened. I had taken on my mother’s dark view of life so fully by then that I called it a silly dream and stopped looking. However, though I didn’t actively look for it as I once had, I was always on the lookout for it.