Celebrating the Divine Mother
There is a beautiful chant in praise of mothers from Devi Mahatmyam:
Yaa Devii Sarva-Bhutessu Maatr-Ruupenna Samsthitaa Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namas-Tasyai Namo Namah
To that Devi Who in All Beings is Abiding in the Form of Mother, Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, Salutations to Her, Salutations again and again.
The month of May honours all Earth mothers and the Divine Mother, Goddess Shakti. In Hinduism, Shakti gives birth and nurtures new life. She is an embodiment of love, nourishment, nurturing, compassion, and creativity.
Each of the major female deities possesses an aspect of Shakti’s energy: Goddess Parvati represents the feminine energy of love, devotion, and protection; Goddess Saraswati is the power that represents wisdom, learning, the arts, and musical expression; and Goddess Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Without the divine energy of these goddesses, there would be no existence; without their nurturing love, there would be no tenderness and joy.
When we are infants, our needs are met by a mother who is able to devote herself fully to responding to our feelings of discomfort. The attention and feedback that a mother gives her children are integral in helping those children grow into adulthood with a healthy sense of self. As children are not physically and emotionally capable of taking care of themselves, raising children is no small task. Mothers often put their needs of nurturing their family above their own.
As we grow older, our needs for our mothers change. No longer do we need them to satisfy our basic survival requirements. Instead, we turn to our mothers to help us achieve emotional wellbeing and stability. Mothers often listen to, comfort, and encourage us. They recognize our strengths, help us access our inner power and courage, and help us to succeed.
We tend to think of mothers as women who have given birth to their children, but many women become mothers in other ways—through adoption, foster parenting, and caring for the children of others as though they were there own. Regardless of how an individual comes to fulfill the role of mother, the nurturing, love, patience, compassion, kindness, and generosity still flow freely; the feelings are all the same.
In modern society, we often think of mothers as women who nurture and raise children, but there are other ways people may channel this beautiful archetype. For instance, teachers often serve the mother role, encouraging their students to do their best, helping them see what their true paths are in life, and offering guidance. When we selflessly give to others, each of us plays the mother role, putting the needs of someone else over our own. Even when we care for our pets or our plants, we love and nurture them.
So, while we pay homage to mothers this month and particularly on Mother’s Day, we can also take this opportunity to witness and nurture the mother in all of us, to see how we can express some of the Divine Mother qualities the feminine deities represent. It is important to note many people today recognize the role of mothering is not exclusive to biology or gender. It may be useful for all people to reflect and celebrate the ‘mothering’ role we play for others and ourselves.
One way we can embody the Divine Mother archetype is by cultivating compassion in our lives. Asking ourselves, “How can we help? How can we be of service?” are ways we can understand the needs of those around us and offer our talents in return. Our service need not be grand; we can offer a kind word, a ready ear, or a bright smile to a friend who needs our love and attention. We can give of our time or other resources to an organization that is dear to us. Knowing where our strengths lie and using them to uplift others is a wonderful way to “mother” the world.
Creativity is another way we can express the mother archetype. Goddess Saraswati, revered for her artistic powers, serves as a beautiful representation of the mother as artist. Many mothers play an invaluable role in the early creation of life, and they also bring about other new creations; new music, visual artwork, and dance come to mind as fresh expressions of creativity and nourishing our minds and culture. We can all be creative, be it in traditional arts or in other ways; any way we express ourselves fully and uniquely is an opportunity to channel that divine creative spirit.
Sharing the wisdom of life, as expressed through us, particularly as we grow older, is yet another opportunity for us to mother and be mothered. So very often, we seek the advice of older individuals who have been down the path before us and can offer the wisdom of their experiences. In turn, we can offer the wisdom or our experiences with others.
Life cannot sustain itself without some level of prosperity, another aspect of the Divine Mother. The flow of wealth has energy. Much like a river rushing from the mountains to the ocean, the exchange of wealth for goods and services helps us meet our needs and establish a firm foundation for our lives. Once we are able to meet our basic survival needs, we can then move on to addressing higher ideals, knowledge, and creativity.
Throughout history, mothers and the mother archetype have been the focus of highly regarded philosophers, sages, artists, and visionary historical figures. Here are some quotes:
Rumi said, “ We are born of love. Love is our mother.”
Rudyard Kipling once offered, “God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.”
Robert Browning believed, “Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.”
And Abraham Lincoln paid tribute to his mother, “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”
This month and on Mother’s Day let us honour our mothers, the beauty of motherhood and maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society.
Happy Mother’s Day to All!