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Saving the Planet: Value and Celebrate the Spiritual Mother

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Saving the Planet: Value and Celebrate the Spiritual Mother

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John Michael’s newest Life Is a Sweet, Tender Bruise column, “Saving the Planet: Value and Celebrate the Spiritual Mother,” considers repairing spiritual damage to save the physical. 

I was visiting my brother in Boise, back when my dog Totes was still alive. Totes was my first, and so far only, dog that I received from another homeless person while living on the streets of Portland. He was a Lhasa Apso, a small Tibetan breed, bred originally to guard the inner sanctuaries of Tibetan Monasteries. I learned and grew so much from loving that dog, and even more from having him love me.

Totes was on the bed with me one night and fell off with a small yip. I laughed a little but then felt remorseful as my next thought was, He is a very old dog, and he was probably 15 or 16 at the time.

I didn’t really have the money to keep Totes properly groomed then. This is a story about the Mother, I suppose, and maybe my first conscious recognition that I could call on and use her in my life. The next morning, my brother was gone, and I spent a couple of hours giving Totes a haircut. Given his age, I wanted to be as gentle as possible.

So, how does one because as gentle as possible? I can’t honestly say. I’m a big guy and when I’m in assertive-man mode and if there are small kids present, I can see that this energy can scare them some; not sure how I do it, but I can shift to something much gentler fairly quickly.

I was making sure that each motion while cutting Totes hair was a gentle as possible. When my brother and some other folks showed up, I noticed I was filled with gentle, feminine energy, the Mother, perhaps? I felt vulnerable with other people around, like being that soft was somehow dangerous and shifted into a more guarded way of being. And that may be the role of the masculine, the protector of the feminine, creating a safe environment for life to be born.

I remember looking at some ancient Goddess statues. The statues were all breasts and hips. I had the odd reaction of wanting to work out, so as to be strong and fit so I could be a better protector.

Also on The Big Smoke

The Mother, I’ve been experiencing her and possibly her ideas a lot this summer. I had a vision while meditating recently of a medallion around my neck, I looked down expecting to see either Christ or Saint Christopher on the medal but was surprised to see it was an image of Mother Mary hanging directly over my heart.

Early this summer, I was helping a friend with his rafting company on the Deschutes River in the high desert of Central Oregon. I was driving the van and taking pictures of the rafters at swift rapids. While waiting at the put in sight, I wandered up a trail along the river. It was early summer, and I noticed how dry the vegetation was already becoming. I then had a thought that I assume came from spirit, or maybe the Mother, The land dries out without the Mother present. I’ve been contemplating that ever since.

I don’t like the phrase “Global Warming” or even “Climate Change.” They have been used to push a political agenda and have divided the country politically in the process. But to deny we have major environmental issues is to have your head buried in some desert sand. The solutions I’ve seen presented seem like shortsighted patchwork and not that effective.

I was reading some spiritual material a long time ago and the thesis was that any illness in the body was first a spiritual issue that becomes an emotional issue and then a physical issue. I’m not sure if I believe it, but it is interesting to contemplate.

I was thinking tonight, What if it’s the same thing with the environment? That, at its heart, it’s a spiritual issue? Well, what if that spiritual issue is the absence of the Mother, or the devaluation of the Mother, in our collective psyches?

The women’s liberation movement was instrumental in opening a path for women to pursue any possibility their heart desired, and what a beautiful thing that is. However, I have my doubts it put any real dent in the patriarchal system we have been evolving under for the last, how many thousands of years? It has allowed women to enter the patriarchal system on a more equal footing with men.

I was reading a thesis stating that any illness in the body was first a spiritual issue that becomes an emotional issue and then a physical issue. … What if it’s the same thing with the environment? That, at its heart, it’s a spiritual issue? 

I had an intuition reading the Bible a long time ago that the story of Cain killing Abel marked the “death of the feminine.” (I’ve written about this before.) Abel was a herdsman and wanderer whose life was dictated by the rhythms of nature. Cain a farmer. Farming allowed for the rise of the city state and allowed humans to create different rhythms that often, and still, completely disregard nature and Mother Earth.

Before the breakdown of the nuclear family, we had the breakdown of the extended family. This occurred with extended families splitting up and moving away from rural areas and into cities during the industrial revolution. What we have now is a patchwork of families with little or no extended families to help raise kids. As a result, we have next to zero trusting communities and the idea of mother or caretaker or hearth maker brings a person no status, and sometimes derision. Just a mother? No career?

Whenever I get too aggressive or misplace my sensitivity, I’ll often have the thought, You’re forgetting Totes. By presence and demeanor alone, Totes mothered me, nurtured me, softened me, made me gentler.

Personally, my recent embrace of the Mother is healing my misogyny. I’ve written about a hatred of women that I buried within me. I’ve been working on healing it since I became aware it was there. My personal relations with women have been fraught with anxiety, nervous flighty attachment and only glimpses of intimacy. I’m more relaxed now in my relationship with women, less guarded, less suspicious of their intentions.

It doesn’t make sense to fight the patriarchy because, “to fight,” comes from the patriarchy. So, why not tenderly and affectionately, as Totes would have, nurture and mother each other back to psychological health? We might even save the planet along the way.

No one can enter life except through a mother. The Cosmic Mother is as essential as the Father. Goddess as an equal to God. Let her into your psyche and into your heart, it may be our last hope.


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John Michael

Hello, good people. I am rarely sure how to describe myself. If I say I am a Christian, many things may arise in your mind that ain't necessarily so. I was homeless for seven years and learned more about myself in that stretch of time than in any other segment of my life. I read the Bible a lot out there and came across a passage in Proverbs that has shaped my approach to life: "A man's pursuit is his kindness." I am well educated with a Master of Social Work degree and have worked a wide variety of jobs in my 52 years. None have lasted too long however. When I was homeless, the beauty of Texas wildflowers made me decide to want to live again. Along with kindness, beauty, play, and self-expression are life-guiding ideas. My shadow contains things like feeling sorry for myself, a truckload of defiance, a desperate need to please women, and no small amount of cruelty. A quote from Luke also has had a lasting effect on me: "For God is kind to the ungrateful and the evil." When I read that I thought, "Hell, I have got a fighting chance." I am here to tell you, you have a fighting chance as well. Besides Christianity, practicing Buddhist and Shamanic techniques inform my relationship to God and the world.

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