The Great Mother in Ecopsychology: Part Two
Moving in more conscious relationship with the Great Mother Archetype
Amplifying the MOTHER in Mother Earth: The Archetypal Great Mother in Ecopsychology
by Tamara T. Thebert, MA, CHT
MFT Intern at Holos Institute
This is Part Two of an essay from a table talk given at the David Brower Center in Berkeley, CA on April 21, 2012 at a conference facilitated by Holos Institute called Holos Institute Conference in Applied Ecopsychology: Re-visioning a Psychology that Embraces the Earth
How I experience the Great Mother Archetype:
Insofar as archetypes serve as a bridge between the conscious and unconscious, the archetype of the Great Mother is an essential archetype to not only highlight in ecopsychology, but to renegotiate our relationship with as clinicians and clients. Although I acknowledge there may be other symbols arising at this time, I see these in the context of our collective re-negotiation of the Great Mother and Feminine rather than separate archetypes. We have come to the point where our repression of the Great Mother has become so deeply embedded that we have difficulty honoring our mothers and our earth mother. Although new archetypes are vital to our collective unfolding, it is equally important to approach the Great Mother archetype with a new relationship, a deeper relationship, of surrender, humility, reverence, responsibility for her honor, reciprocity, and co-creative participation rather than rejection of Her enduring Presence in our psyche.
Renegotiating and redefining our relationship with the Great Mother is not to be understood in isolation, but in the context of eventual integration with the Great Father. This union of feminine and masculine cannot happen without the emergence of a new consciousness with the feminine and masculine in our beings by amplifying the sacred feminine to bring balance. In the throws of a deeper search for spiritual meaning and order in outer world, we must be transformed by a new awareness of the inner world where subject and object intersect at the point of cosmology, spirituality, and psychology. Put another way, our current adventure amplifies the integration of the material and spiritual, feminine and masculine. When we invite the Great Mother and the Feminine back into our consciousness in a new and healthier way, we also invite a non-dual experience of being. We allow ourselves to become Her and begin to experience non-duality.
Through a deeper experience of her motherhood, we have the opportunity to become motherhood, which is a dynamic experience of all of Creation. We then become mother, father, sister, brother, lover, beloved, creator and creation. We become whole. To me, the Great Mother is not just feminine expression, but the integration of sacred feminine and sacred masculine qualities in one form expressed through the feminine and female, in both the formless and through form.
Moving in more conscious relationship to the Mother means to embody Her complexities:
• reflects not only the unconscious, but a different kind of consciousness (intuition)
• the dynamic and the stillness of the Self we sense before we think about who we are… often called “personality” but can also be understood as the self-Self connection in Her healthiest expression
• relationship (interconnection and capacity to love, live, and shine without drowning out other lights)… relationship to light and dark
• Ancestors (lineage, Mothers, children, Great Mother)
• Integration of:
o Feminine and Masculine qualities expressed through Feminine and Female
o Mediator of light and dark, as the Moon She integrates another celestial being’s light and mirrors the qualities necessary for the Earth and all beings
o She integrates solar and lunar consciousness as the Moon; While Her light reflects, refines She also has a “light” of Her own
o Seen and unseen
• Earth Mother and Body
• Cycles (birth, growth, life, decay, death, and rebirth); Moontime, Time
• Process, Creativity, Dreamtime
Moving in more conscious relationship to Her means embodying Her optimal qualities. These are just a few of the key qualities I sense are pertinent to this time:
• compassion as an expression of love
• tolerance of cycles, not just growth (patience)
• responsibility for the greater good in the form of protection, creativity, generativity and maintenance of life, and therefore also embodying necessary death and destruction
• perseverance tempered with self-care
The Great Mother archetype has been known to many in Jungian circles, spiritual feminists, ecofeminists, and archaeomythologists as a necessary connection in bringing balance to a dominant society steeped in patriarchal values that reflect an experience of unconscious expressions of masculinity from which men, women, nor anyone in between benefit. The repression in the individual psyche is a reflexive manifestation of suppression in the collective psyche, leaving us with an unhealthy relationship with the Great Mother and the Feminine that has resulted in great imbalance, unnecessary destruction, exploitation, violence, and disconnection from our spiritual and creative Selves as experienced in environmental disasters, economic hardships, and lack of harmony and well-being for most sentient beings.
By forming a new relationship to the Great Mother, we move closer to integration, closer to wholeness, closer to the Self within and without.