Buttery yellow petals
a warming sun.
The snow seeps deep;
parched soil receives a gift.
Harbingers of spring
diminutive tuliped cups
break ground in January
-blossoming earth stars-
soar and freeze –
I marvel at such tenacity.
Freed from her oppressor
her joyful mother
celebrates as the Earth
swells buds on every branch.
My mother died
in April just as
the frogs began
to croak, laying
strings of jellied eggs
across still waters.
Matricide in spring
makes her presence
known as each
cell of my body
I live my mother’s hell
strung up by the neck –
Forced to repeat the pattern
I turn away from
this tortured body,
combing the Earth for light –
With a prayer
to the Crocus Goddess
to help me heal the split.
The goddess of spring is a flower. Mythic stories abound with this truth – For example, Persephone’s return to the earth -body is heralded by one of the first flowers of spring – the yellow crocus, which also happens to be one of my favorites.
Once I loved this season of light, but as I have grown older, the sun hurts my eyes, and except for the momentary joys I experience participating in Nature’s renewal I feel increasing bereft during this season.
Baffled, I am gradually learning to see.
When my mother died I hoped that our torturous relationship had come to an end; I forgot that my mother’s cells live on in my body, as mine once inhabited hers (Science backs this up).
Like my mother, I was socialized into a culture of mind-body splits. (A woman’s mind is always suspect; a woman’s body is always objectified; sexually, any woman – of any age remains the object of the pornographic male gaze).
My mother was male identified, and taught me to be the same. I learned to privilege men over women.
I also learned to despise my body just like my mother did.
In this process I lost access to me because it was this body that held the truth of who I was.
My dreaming body helped me see. My love for and identification with Nature eventually saved me. Becoming a woman’s advocate helped me begin to understand woman’s suffering; opening the door to dealing with my own pain, and eventually that of my mothers. I began to ask questions about how the mind – body split operated in me.
After my mother’s death in 1993 (at first I felt relief) I was able to forgive her for not being capable of loving her daughter because she despised the woman in herself. I hoped that I could move on.
Instead, I began to suffer the most crushing depression each spring. It has only been recently (thanks to an article by Carol Christ) that I was given access to the insight that this cyclic descent of mine is attached to matricide.
What is matricide? Definitions vary but the general idea is that the mother is murdered by her own daughter (or her own son). I grew up witnessing my mother’s hatred for mothering, my mother’s hatred of her own mother, and lived my mother’s lack of love for me, eventually coming to hate her for her indifference.
Even though initially I reactively adopted the other extreme- Mary – self sacrificing ‘mother of god’ as my ideal as a child/ adolescent/young adult (hardly a solution) unconsciously I carried mother hatred in the cells of my own body.
When I became a mother I turned that hatred on me; the results were devastating.
The most frightening aspect of this intergenerational matricidal pattern is that it lives on through both of my children whose hatred for me mirrors that of my mother’s hatred of herself, her daughter, my hatred for myself and the five year period I went through towards the end of my mother’s life when I actively hated my mother too…
Each spring I fall into the Abyss – I am forced to re-live the horrors of matricide and how it continues to affect me today through depression.
I may not be able to shift a pattern that is both personal and cultural but I have done the necessary work to deal with my own issues around matricide and most importantly, have forgiven both my mother and myself.
At this point in my life I pray for a keen awareness each spring. It is only when I can hear those murderous voices rising that I have a chance to deal with them.
Developing the capacity for endurance has helped.
PS – My beloved spirit birds the CRANES BRRR in the next field as I write these words – Nature is listening, and I am not alone.