Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mother and Child

*I've been told this didn't post right the first time, so I'm trying it again.  If you've already read it, sorry for the repeat.*

I'm not just the innocent that needs protecting, I'm the compassionate mother who weaves and wraps the blanket. I'm the child who is healing and the resurrected woman both.

That's one of the conclusions I came to in my Recovery post last Sunday. (Achtung: If you haven't read that post, this one is not going to make much sense.) This insight, while connected to the bat orphans, the Raccoon card, and the Inanna story I spoke of in that post, comes most deeply and directly out of these images from my 2011 collage:

This one is at the very top center of the collage.

This one is at the very bottom center.

When I chose the top image, it was because she was green and pretty; I felt drawn to her for no articulated reason.  I chose the little girl at the bottom because she exuded innocence to me, she represented the return to childhood that I have been experiencing in various ways and want to continue nurturing.  And she was pretty.  I put her on the green apple because I'd already chosen the apple image (because it was green, and represented abundance) and needed somewhere to put it; they just fit well together.

It wasn't until a few days later that I thought to do some research on the top image.  The little book I got her out of, A Gift of Happiness, had the picture labeled as Green Tara, but I didn't know anything about her at all.  So I Googled her and found out some wonderful things, which I printed out in green ink, put in a green folder, and read through, underlining things that particularly interested me.  What really caught my attention at that time was that she is known as "the Mother of Liberation," "the Mother of Mercy and Compassion," and she represents enlightened action.  And it struck me how perfect it was that the mother is at the top of the collage and the child at the bottom, and that both images represent aspects of myself.

After the protection and fierceness themes came up, I went back and read my folder about Green Tara again, and lo and behold, this is what I read; it didn't really register the first time:
During our spiritual growth we need to turn to our Holy Mother, Tara, for refuge.  She protects us from all internal and external dangers (
Tara is a female Buddha, and Green is only one of her 21 manifestations, but is also the most popular.   According to my source, "she is the fiercer form of Tara."  In other words, she is fierce compassion, fierce blessing, fierce protection.


Buddhism is not a religion of deity worship.  It's more like a system of spiritual practices, although I'm no expert.  But the existence of Tara goes back way far in both Hinduism and Buddhism, and it seems that she is primarily related to as a meditation deity.  There is a mantra associated with her:  om tare tuttare ture svaha, the reciting of which is said to "untangle knots of psychic energy," among other things.

According to Wikipedia, the Tara practice consists of meditating on the visual image of her in order to incorporate her qualities; in this sense she becomes an "indwelling deity," which is the same idea behind all good Christianity.  But Buddhism takes it a step further, because by practicing this as a disciplined meditation, the practitioner eventually comes to see that Tara has "as much reality as any other phenomena apprehended through the mind."  The result is "the realization of Ultimate Truth as a vast display of Emptiness and Luminosity" because "one dissolves the created deity form and at the same time also realizes how much of what we call the "self" is a creation of the mind, and has no long term substantial inherent existence."

All of this makes wonderful paradoxical mysterious sense to me, because as soon as I knew she was the compassionate protective Mother, I began imagining a story about her and the Child of my collage.  The Child knows she is protected: she doesn't have to look up to make sure the Mother's still there.  She is protected by her innocence and trust.  She knows she is safe and loved, and so she is going about her business, making her daisy chain, her creative offering.  She is aware of all that is around her and yet completely focused on her task.  The Child IS the "enlightened action" Green Tara gives birth and form to.

The Child's face is hidden, yet her essence is not.  We see the Mother's face instead, the Child's source.  We see what the Child is doing, which is playful, beautiful, and innocent, and is made possible by the Mother's protection.

In my Recovery post, I used the metaphor of a blanket for maintaining warmth, but the Mother and Child in my collage are warm without a blanket; the Mother is in fact partially naked.  This points to the time when the blanket will no longer be necessary, when the Sun itself will be my warmth.  But now it is winter, and I will continue to wrap myself close for the time being.

Which brings me to Brigid, whose holiday, Imbolc, is February 1 and/or 2, depending on your source.  She is connected with fire and water, poetry, and healing.  She is another fierce Mother, and is a goddess (or saint if you'd rather) who I've felt connected to for a long time.

One of the traditions associated with celebrating Imbolc is to make a pledge for the coming year.  Because her day affirms the promise of spring to come, the planting of seeds is a symbolic sealing of the pledge.  But because this day also marks mid-winter, the blessing and lighting of candles is part of it too.  To me, this recognizes that there is a season and movement to everything - a time to bundle up and withdraw and a time to dance naked in the sun, so to speak.

When I lit my room with many candles on Imbolc night and meditated on what my pledge would be, I sat before my collage until it became clear.  In choosing "bless" as my word for the year, I had only thought in terms of giving blessing - blessing as enlightened action, I suppose - but in gazing at the Mother and Child, I suddenly understood that it must also be about opening to receive, gratefully, the blessings of my life.  And so the pledge I made is to both give and receive Life's blessings.  

The Mother blesses the Child and the Child blesses the Mother; they dissolve into one another, into pure Being.    


  1. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful... I love Tara and it fits you very well :-) I love your two collages. Frankly, at first, I did not realize they were. They just looked like beautiful illustrations. Bravo for making them.
    You are on a glorious journey. A multitude of blessings for you on it!

    PS: your post makes me feel very happy!

  2. Susan, this is a beautifully illustrated reading about your inner life.

    One of the statements that most resonates for me is; "She knows she is safe and loved, and so she is going about her business, making her daisy chain, her creative offering."

    The words "creative offering" have somehow met with my soul today in a very real and tangible way. To be in such a place of safety, to take the hands of yourself and place them upon a creative activity as an offering, doing so in safety and love...this is a beautiful, wonderful way to exist and a place I feel myself coming into...very quickly!

    "The awareness of all that is around you, but completely focused on the task"...there is a knowing in this that feels blessed.

    I feel at one with this beautiful girl sitting upon the green apple in her white dress!

    So inspiring dear friend, so inspiring!

  3. Claire - Thank you - she does fit me well. Eliana and I have been singing her chant when we go to bed at night, and it's just been lovely.

    Jennifer - I feel at one with the apple girl too, as you know. And she so reminds me of you.

  4. To be told that such a sweet image is somehow a reminder of me is medicine to my soul.



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