For 14 years the season we’re entering now marks a time for me where I step into my heart space and continuing my journey as a motherless daughter. As long as I live August will be connected to the loss of my mom and the following months to learning how to deal with the complexity that grief is. It isn’t just such a time for me, but also for my fiancée who has both lost his brother and a couple of years later his mother in August. So with the transition from Lammas into the Autumn Equinox (and also most of Samhain) these are the seasons for us of honoring our living dead (a term based on African ancestors belief).
Most of the years I end up being shocked how fast time flies and how at times fresh this mother loss feels. Every time I go through the memories of how I was told by the doctor’s that she had unexpectedly died in the hospital and my need to see and touch her after that, still brings tears to my eyes. However the pain has changed from being nearly unbearable to becoming lighter, but more fundamental, more engraved to my being. I had to learn the hard fact of being a motherless daughter, a term I came across when I’ve read the German edition of Hope Edelman’s Motherless Daughters.
I've lost more than ‘just’ a mother, cause with her death I lost all of what I called family. Having a single mom, who after a violent first marriage wasn’t interested at all in marrying my father and having a father, who was simply said not the domestic kind of guy, she had no choice than become my world, my home. That doesn’t mean our relationship was love, peace and harmony all the time, especially not in the last 8 years of her life, when she got chronically ill and I had to become the one who took care of at the end everything. But all in all I had a good childhood and a caring loving mother, who occasionally made mistakes like every mother or parent does.
One thing I love to remember are the trips we did into the countryside with our bicycles when I was little. We had not much money for any vacations so my mother had to get inventive and together we packed blankets, pillows and a little picnic basket and find a lovely space on the meadows under shady trees with a little stream nearby. We ate there, I played and we also made little naps, much to the surprise of walkers who occasionally came by and wondered about us two. It was certainly the foundation of my love for nature and still the sound of rustling leaves and dancing green shadows paired with the sound of water are like a comforting lullaby to me.
What impact does her loss have on me now, almost one and a half decades later? In terms of my spirituality it’s undoubtedly the reason why I’m attracted to mother goddesses or the nurturing, loving aspect of the divine feminine. It’s the mothering comfort, the promise of unconditional love I yearn for and try to draw into my life. Another aspect I searched for long is the feeling of home. In hindsight I already had the ability to create a place like that for myself which I inherited by my mother I believe, although of course it’s not exactly the same, but more than enough to feel good. It’s the undying part of her that lives within me.
However in all those years of having no mother, I also dealt with the more challenging times we had and with expectations she put on me that I sometimes still feel like a heavy weight on my shoulders. These shadow sides of a lost loved one we tend to forget and start to emphasize all the light and positive aspects of a person. But what can also happen as a griever is that we also start to become blind to our own failures towards those who passed on. It was strange how incidents where I was quite emotionally cruel got erased during the years due to the fact of suppressing them. I made my peace by accepting that both of us were only human and did the best we could when times were rough, but what really helps me is the knowledge that the foundation of our mother-daughter relationship was love.
In a few weeks I will marry the man with whom I share love and laughter for 8 years now. Surely I would love to have my mother at my side to share the excitement. How would she like her future son in law? Would she be very disappointed that we just want a simple wedding and about me not wanting the usual elaborate wedding dress? Maybe she would smile and remember that I always hated going shopping for clothes with her from childhood until I was a teen. And believe me, mom, it’s still not my favorite.
There will be always special and very often quite mundane occasions when we as motherless daughters would love to have our mothers by our sides. The yearn for her tender touch, for an encouraging word, for advice and yes, even sometimes for having our little quarrels are part of my life. I cannot have it physically, but I can travel to that place inside myself where memories are vivid and where the veil between dreams and the realm of spirits is gossamer.
I’ve created a spread that touches on the image we have of those we lost and also on how this loss changes us. I kept the theme more general for those of you who don’t mourn the loss of a mother, but another close to heart person. Please let me now here in the comments if this spread is helpful to you.
1. What image of your passed loved one do you have?
2. How to develope an image that is more true to her/his nature?
3. How did her/his loss change you?
4. How can you honor her/his memory?
5. What message does your passed loved one have for you? What's her/his legacy?
How wonderful that these cards showing up, telling me about the courage my mother had to come up with and the challenges she often had to overcome as a single mom. Getting aware of all her other aspects that formed the person I knew as my mother, I have to go within and that the answers I seek require patience and don’t come overnight.
The woman I’ve become due to this loss is someone who wants to follow a path of heart purity, of being true to myself and those close to me. I can see that I’m on a good way in accepting life’s ebbs and flows as well as acknowledging my own emotional ups and downs as the cyclic powers that move us as human beings.
And how to better honor the memory of my mother than becoming the woman that burns everything that ties her down, holds her back and overcome obstacles like she did for me. But the most moving message of this spread is the last card showing Yemaya the Santeria African-Caribbean goddess of the living ocean, considered to be the mother of all. What a wonderful synchronicity it is as well since I started studying goddesses from the Santeria African Yoruban tradition and Yemaya resonated with me quite strongly. Getting the message of my mom delivered by her is simply stunning. In the Mythical Goddess Tarot Yemaya is what the Hermit in a traditional tarot deck is. But here she encourages the reader to go within to find the connection with the nourishing Mother. I can hear my mom almost:
“Everything’s alright darling. If you need me, just go within and I’ll be there for you. But I also left everything there for you to draw strength from, when times are demanding. Just take the time to find the spot inside where my memory is most vivid and cultivate your own nourishing support system that helps you in darker and stressful times.”
Thank you, mom.