The Original Tradition
IS DE MOEDER EEN
Most of the "Mother" and "Goddess" literature comes from female e.g. feminist writers. (This is of course not exactly true. Think of Bachofen, Briffault, Fromm, James, Preston, Benko, Begg, Neumann, the one interviewed here and others). Anyway, the contribution of the former is increasing considerably. In itself this is a very enjoyable development, since it introduces a way of seeing things, that was practically absent in male dominated disciplines. Where men excel in reductionism (and worse), the feminist literature usually represents a holistic approach. Which has a great healing effect on our culture. Does this mean though, that all the claims originating from their positions should be accepted uncritically? Han Marie Stiekema's opinion is, that the way feminist spirituality is developing is giving rise to concern. So we asked him why?
I: What is exactly your concern?
HMS: The concern is, that we will plunge from one self-centered universe into the next.
I: Could you explain?
HMS: After many millennia of oppression, women have a tremendous need of recognizing themselves in the Divine. Something which is totally understandable. However, they don't (usually) realize, that they are about to make the same mistakes they accuse patriarchy of, namely creating a spirituality based upon their own personal preferences, interests and desires.
I: After patriarchy has proven to be suicidal, don't we need a feminine world view?
HMS: The crucial question here is: do we create the Mother or is She creating us?
I: Is it wrong to seek empowerment?
HMS: Not at all. The issue is: is it on our terms or on Her terms. It cannot be, that once again we create a Deity that suits our purpose. Even if this purpose is justified.
I: With other words: are we the center of the universe or is She?
HMS: Exactly. Only after having recognized Her as the unfathomable Depth of the universe, after we truly recognize that She created us rather than claiming Her for our own purposes, only then comparisons can be made e.g. parallels can be drawn.
I: Awe, devotion and surrender as the foundation.
HMS: Not to mix up Reality with images, concepts, projections and ideas, yes.
I: So the first concern is to know Her?
HMS: A genuine quest for Who/What She Is, unprejudiced, before prematurely projecting your own desires and images into Her, yes, that's what it is all about.
I: Something I sense you haven't come across too often within the feminist world.
HMS: Although many emphasize, that the Mother Goddess has to be taken as a Reality, in fact they stay within the framework of their own psyche like personal experiences, images, archetypes, dreams and the like.
I: Isn't it important to cherish your own experiences?
HMS: The Divine e.g. the Great Mother isn't an extension of your own experiences. Instead, you are an extension of Her's. Once you recognize, that She is the context of your life - rather than the other way round - only then your experiences will get meaning. Again, it presupposes a true quest for Her True Nature.
I: She isn't a sectarian idol "for women only".
HMS: Women too often think, that they already reflect the Mother Goddess. So that they can automatically claim all kinds of privileges. The sad thing is, that after an entire era of patriarchal suppression women have adjusted too well to the system.
I: Even have become fierce protagonists?
HMS: It is very difficult to remain honest if you have suffered so much. All your effort is directed to "how to get out" e.g. "to create a new reality". This is very understandable. You tend to idealize your own position, rather than accepting (the painful) reality as it is.
I: How do you value female bonding?
HMS: Even darwinist studies have shown, that only female solidarity can neutralize male aggression. Obviously, I am very much in favour of the former. The point is, that exactly in this respect the feminist movement has deteriorated. Looking at the urgency of the global situation, new models have to be developed in which women will be able "to make a new start".
I: Is this not something, that could be applied to your work too?
HMS: I am deeply connected to the feminine. Much more than many women have ever experienced. So I too have longed for the return of the Mother. In fact, my whole effort is directed to support Her Comeback e.g. to establishing a feminine world view. This my longing corresponds with a passion for the Truth. Actually, they are the same.
I: So, the utmost priority is the quest for the Mother?
HMS: I am happy you have come to the core of the matter.
I: What is Her Reality then?
HMS: Before anything else, the Great Mother proves to be a Cosmic Womb, the Void out of Which the entire universe is born, the latter continuously returning. Her main characteristic is, that She is All-Embracing.
I. Nothing excluded?
HMS: You say it. Including not only the Divine (the Light, Consciousness, "God"), but also the visible world: the grass, the plants, the rocks, the rivers, the animals, the clouds and human beings without exception.
I: Women and men alike.
HMS: Does a common mother discriminates between a daughter and a son?
I: Now you also project.
HMS: To project or (consciously) giving an example is a big difference (laughing).
I: Could you reveal more about Her Nature?
HMS: Think of the Cosmic Womb as a Vacuum. Her Depth is a mystery. In fact She is bottomless. By "emptying Herself" She gives birth to Her first "emanation", the Divine Light, formerly called "God". Something I call Her Light Body.
I: Waw, I sense the paradox: Nothingness and All-Inclusiveness as two words for the same thing.
HMS: In the West Nothingness has a negative connotation. It was introduced by Christianity. Like in Genesis: "God created the world out of Nothingness". The irony is, that many feminists denounce it as "transcendentalism", as "other-worldliness". The truth is different. Compare it with a room. Everything in the room exists thanks to the space that surrounds it.
I: Could you compare it with a women's womb?
HMS: Absolutely. To the child the womb is a dark, "empty", all-inclusive shell.
I: So you may talk of a Mother cosmology.
HMS: In the Cosmic Womb two forces exist. A pushing one, the driving force behind manifestation, thus from the "center" to the "periphery" and an opposite pulling force, that from the periphery to the center. Together they constitute the Mother's Law of the Universe, consisting of continuous death, rebirth and permanence.
I: That's why the Mother embodies creation and destruction?
HMS: That's right. It corresponds with the most fundamental insights of mankind. You will find it back in myths of the Mother, giving birth to Her Celestial Daughters and Sons. Especially in those, which are centered around descending into the Underworld.
I: Such as?
HMS: Inanna searching for Her deceased husband Dumuzi; Ishtar for Tammuz, Asherah for Baal, Cybele for Attis; Demeter for Persepone; Aphrodite for Adonis and Mary for Jesus. It is also called the Great Death. Tibetans call a person who has really suffered it a "delog".
I: So one can actually experience it?
HMS: It is about the difference between identification and Realization. In the first case you identifiy with your own experiences - those that belong to the psychological e.g. spiritual world - while projecting them into what you assume should be the Great Mother, while in the second case you ARE Her.
I: The things turned upside down. Many feminist argue, that they have the experience of being a mother, which gives them the authority to determine what the Cosmic Mother is.
HMS: Their experiences of being a mother are obviously very real. And indeed, this kind of experience is their privilege only. However, in order to become an authority, projecting your experiences into the Divine Realm is not enough. Like Inanna, you have to Realize the Real Thing first.
I: What will be the difference?
HMS: Every time that the "Mother" threatens to become a confortable part of your conceptual thinking e.g. imagining, realize that She is the Awe-Inspiring, the Unfathomable Depth of the entire universe, greater than "God" and all galaxies together. Unimaginable.
I: I feel what you try to say. The reason why you stick to this point is, that by projecting, you bring the Mother down to your own level, stripping Her from Her Essence, while your passion is for The-One-She-Really-Is.
HMS: Because She is All-Inclusive She simultaneously embraces the entire existence, nothing excluded. So, She is not only giving birth to the Light, but also to the visible world, the latter being Her Material Body.
I: Something that is known as "Mother Earth".
HMS: Indeed. In fact Her first born, the Light Body is Her Daughter (or Son), while Mother Earth (Her Material Body, originating from the Light) is Her grand daughter.
I: What should be our main conclusion?
HMS: That the Mother cannot be possessed, She is nobodies' property. Therefore the deepest spiritual attitude is that of devotion and surrender, rather than claiming Her as something that belongs to you.
I: The drop that only comes to know the Ocean, after it has dissolved into It.
HMS: Obviously, this has huge consequences on all levels. It determines if your life is based on gratitude and joy or on one dominated by grasping and claiming.
I: So, empowerment isn't that simple.
HMS: By surrendering to the Mother, She will empower you, rather than you trying to empower yourself through Her. The latter is not different from those who try to empower themselves through money, dominance and exploitation.
Notice: "Empowerment" is very much an American phenomenon. Try to find out in yourself where it is coming from, while subsequently embracing that underlying insecure e.g. vulnerable part, instead of shouting it down.
I: Are you against (spiritual) feminism?
HMS: Crucial is to recognize your true roots: the Great Mother as the unity in diversity. Inspired by Her, a renewal may take place. We desperately need a new movement which unite all those - women and men - who favor a feminine world view, an all-inclusive vigorous élan and driving force, aiming at the Transformation of Self and Society.
I: What are the benefits of surrendering yourself to the Mother?
HMS: By surrendering yourself to Her you become part of Her Law of the Universe. In that case you are constantly dying to the old, while being reborn as a new Self.
I: Renewing yourself.
HMS: Definitely. Your spiritual renewal translating itself on all levels: psychologically, emotionally and physically.
I: Could you explain?
HMS: Participating in Her creation in your own unique way. Feeling the joy of being a woman or a man, each occupying a meaningful position in Her web of life, the dynamic interaction of all living beings.
I: So, at this stage you may draw parallels between yourself and the Mother?
HMS: Once your attitude is one of thankfulness for the great gift of life, you may indulge in the benefits of it. E.g. celebrating that the Mother created you as a woman or to be able to feel the depth of existence through birthgiving. And yes, recognizing that you share this quality with your Cosmic Mother.
I: Enjoying your privileges?
HMS: Absolutely. Being a woman is a glory. Deep within you are a Goddess. Your life-centered attitude is a blessing, without which life wouldn't be possible. Feminine qualities like wholeness, bonding, respect, love, care, intelligence, depth, sensitivity, being rooted in the earth, realism etc. can save the earth. Having privileges and responsibilities are thus two sides of the same coin.
I: It seems that you distinguish the Great Mother from Goddesses. Am I right?
HMS: That's right. The Mother is the inconceivable Womb of the universe, while Goddesses are originating from Her. It is equal to the Light emanating from Emptiness. Because the former is the Divine Spark in us, you may realize it as your innermost Core, that which you really Are. Women may call this the Goddess within, while men would prefer to call it God within.
I: Is this the whole story?.
HMS: Apart from that "feminine" qualities are not limited to females alone. As you know on the personality level, both men and women possess an aspect of each other. This is like yin and yang. Males have an anima, while females have an animus. Every individual has a unique blend of gender aspects within him or herself.
I: So, even men are benefitted.....? (laughing).
HMS: Each human being is a child of the Mother. She has bestowed both with the possibilities of knowing Her through the way back Home. Often feminists don't realize (or don't want to realize), that men are as gifted.
I: Having misused their gifts though.
HMS: Patriarchy as a system, yes. Of course, supported by those who benefitted (and still do) most from it. To underline what I mean, I will give you an example. To women it is "obvious" that they are most close to the Mother, because of the fact that they possess a female body. Men, however, in their longing for Self-realization frequently develop an intense body-awareness, their way of restoring the unity with existence.
I: So, it is not that simple.
HMS: Even the experience of birth can be as genuine (and not only a ritual as some feminists are trying us to believe) as it is for women. While the Mother is giving birth through women.... physically/emotionally/spiritually, men (and not only them, of course) through surrendering themselves to the Vacuum may experience the birth of Her Light Body (Enlightenment).
I: Which sheds a new light on gender?
HMS: First of all, both women and men are equally embraced by the Mother. Both have received unique qualities. Thus, trying to create a new tribal religion (like feminists do), excluding 50% of mankind (like men have done) doesn't correspond with the Mothers' cosmic order.
I: That means?
HMS: There are no chosen ones, unless everyone is. Besides, what you really are is neither "feminine" or "masculine". Your Essence is the Divine Spark in you, which ultimately is the Great Mother. Men and women are like onions each with various layers. The bodymind is just one of them. Some layers are more dynamic than others. The irony is, that the anima in men and the animus in women are among the most active.
I: Everything turned upside down.
HMS: In a way, yes. Both parts are trying to realize themselves. That means, that men are invited to actualize their feminine part, while women are doing the opposite. The latter is reflected by the fact, that generally women identify rather (too) easily with patriarchal values. A minority likes to be strong, independent and ambitious, f.i. many feminists enjoy their status as an academic, critizising patriarchy from their confortable patriarchal position, while the majority is totally addicted to consumerism.
I: Sisterhood kills?
HMS: It wouldn't be bad, if feminists recognize the devastating situation they are in. Indeed, after a short while of high expectations, women's solidarity has become a big disillusion. Only with reality as a starting point, new ways can be found.
I: Such as?
HMS: Only by recognizing the Mothers all-embracing Reality, we may come to accept the fact, that a new cooperation between women and men has to be established. Starting point is the Mothers' Law of the Universe. Men are representing "death and rebirth", while women are reflecting Her "web of life". This means that apart from psychology, the Mother has established a normative principle that serves as a guideline. Obviously, every human being can chose by him or herself, in what way he or she wants to comply with it.
I: The start of a new social order?
HMS: Individualism and materialism have throwed the world into a suicidal spiral. Both are based on egotism, which is a central characteristic of patriarchy. We desperately need a turning point, with interrelationship, connectedness and community as the foundation. It is the realm of women. Women - representing the substance of life - therefore have to occupy a central position in society, with men developing themselves as the servants of the Whole. Something I have elaborated in my "Transformation Manifesto for the 21st century".*
* See also "MatriTalks".
I: Something to go by?
HMS: If you don't derive your identity from your (fixed) gender role anymore, it has to come from somewhere else. Then, suddenly we understand, that existence is more than the addition of our individual choices. We re-member the ancient paradigm of "macrocosm is microcosm". Wholeness includes healing of the entire universe.
I: It is obvious, that we cannot afford to go on with all kinds of individualistic games, including that of gender.
HMS: Through the new flexibility the structure (of gender roles) has collapsed. Each woman and each man has her or his unique blend of feminine or/and masculine characteristics. The new differentiation is therefore not with the sexes, but with world view. The criterion is with what kind of society you identify. Do you favour a patriarchal or a feminine-oriented society?
I: So, is the Mother a feminist?
HMS: No, in the sense of being an idol for exclusive claims, yes where it concerns inclusiveness on all levels. She is urging women and men to cooperate in establishing a Mother-oriented spirituality, a holistic feminine world view and a new society based on community democracy.*
I: Spirituality and politics as two sides of the same coin?
HMS: In a time in which everything is disintegrating - with corresponding big problems in the near future - the Mother has revealed Herself in order to "save the world". She is inviting us to dying to the old in order to become reborn, bringing women and men together in a joint enterprise to saving the earth.
I: Will there still be hope?
HMS: As so often, when the situation is at its worst, a turning point is about to happen. This is the meaning of the Return of the Mother. Those who have eyes, see it. However, this will not be succesful, if we refuse to actively cooperating with the Mother. So wake up! in order for a new dynamism to emerge.
Praise the Mother!
© 2005 Copyright Han Marie Stiekema