I empathize with the nostalgic tributes I’ve seen shared on the passing of the 96 year old monarch of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth these past few days.
I have a little pouch of things that trigger nostalgia – my mom’s love of the Royal Family, making scrapbooks of Lady Di and Prince William and pretending it was for my Brownie badge in collecting… roast beef dinners at my grandparents… the milkman’s pre-dawn clink-clink delivery of milk in bottles to your door. They signify a different age, a time when I didn’t even think about the ethics of eating meat, didn’t know the word colonialism, and door-stop delivery wasn’t something Jeff Bezos invented, but something that actually gave a lot of people a really decent living. (Long live the milk-man.)
My nostalgia for that time exists, and I also recognize that there’s something about some of those things, an innocence, that was never true or real. Becoming disillusioned is part of growing up, I think… it’s realizing what is an illusion, and it hurts to lose illusions, and it’s empowering to step through the other side and see with fresh eyes, to learn the gentle art of interrogation… is all as it seems on the surface here? What might be being buried beneath this?
The monarchy is a powerful illusion. What is buried beneath it?
Matriarchies. Quashed matriarchies.
What might be buried beneath Her Majesty, the Commonwealth’s sovereign?
I’ve been thinking of the tributes I’ve seen, about the life of service that a woman named Elizabeth gave – how utterly she devoted herself to that duty… (to the act of inflating the illusion of the monarchy. To putting a face to a Crown. To fulfilling a role that meant all her other instincts or loyalties had to be pushed to the side. And I base this mostly on watching two seasons of the Crown, so… sketchy expertise for sure.) The person most trapped by the monarchy was the monarch, who subjugated her entire self to perform a role in the service of a great system of global subjugation.
But I also read this morning, a short e-book about The Mother Wound from Bethany Webster, and somehow these things connect in my brain to chart a path of liberation for all people, for all “subjects”, for all our illusions. But first we have to be bold and taboo-breaking enough to take aim at the untouchable illusions of Queen, of mothers.
As she recounts, in 2014, Webster came home from a women’s conference frustrated by what she saw as a lack of depth in how we talk about women’s issues. She wanted to unpack the struggles women face, and, based on a 15 year thesis she’d been developing on her own, rooted in her own trauma, she wrote an essay, “Why it’s Crucial for Women to Heal the Mother Wound” that went viral overnight.
The essence of her thesis is this:
- Whether you accept it or not, your relationship with your mother has been one of the most significant forces shaping your life.
- The Mother Wound is something that is passed down from mothers to daughters, to some degree, and is partly a result of the toxic cultural atmosphere that devalues women as a whole.
- Each of us has our mother’s voice in our heads, the tone of which may range from supportive to harmful, wielding a subtle yet powerful influence over our choices and behaviors.
- Healing the Mother Wound requires transforming the inner mother from a duplicate of our outer mother, who has shortcomings to some degree, to an inner mother who can abundantly meet our needs and provide the inner safety we need to grow into our full potential.
- As we feel increasingly safer and supported from within, we become more capable of moving beyond our inherited “maternal horizon” and into greater levels of fulfillment, joy, belonging, innovation and individuation.
- There is no final “done” moment of healing. Nor is healing separate from daily life. Rather, healing and transformation become a way of life. Everyday triggers are opportunities to heal your past and make new choices, opening up new possibilities for your future.
- Taking the time to heal your Mother Wound is the most important personal development work you’ll ever do. It heals not only yourself but clears the way for future generations and transforms society as a whole.
- Your Inner Mother is a source of wisdom and power within you that you can call upon in any moment. But with very few exceptions, from the day girls are born, they are conditioned to split off from their truth. This creates anxiety, doubt, shame and it’s the core issue at the center of women’s empowerment. I call this split the Mother Wound and healing it will be the most profound inner work you ever do.
When I first encountered the word “the mother wound” everything went very still for me. I was like, oh, there’s a language for this? Is it possible that I’m not actually a bad person because I’ve got a fraught relationship with my mother?
(To dig in more, Bethany’s website and blog is https://www.bethanywebster.com. This post on the power of being held is very practical… I don’t think, no matter what your relationship with your mother, that any of us were able to find the usual kind of holding we might have needed through these wild pandemic times – and most likely, we had to build a list like this for ourselves. Do email me if you have any tools that worked for you – we’ll do a follow-up post :))
In her free e-book, “What is the Mother Wound?”, Webster writes this (and this connects us back to the Queen, for you stalwarts who might still be reading (props, majesties)):
“There’s a lot of talk these days about ’embodying the divine feminine’ and being an ‘awakened woman.’ The reality is that we cannot be a strong container of the power of the divine feminine if we have not yet addressed the places within us where we have felt banished and in exile from the Feminine. Our first encounter with the Goddess was with our mothers. Until we have the courage to break the taboo and face the pain we have experienced in relation to our mothers, the divine feminine is another form of a fairy tale, a fantasy of rescue by a mother who is not coming.”
I think a Queen is often an Earthly stand-in or metaphorical representative for the Goddess, an archetype of the divine feminine. As a myth, she’s kind of an Ur-Mother. (Technically, as the head of the church of England, Queen Elizabeth II was God’s representative on Earth, “Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England“, so some take it beyond the metaphor.)
In a distorted system, we love her, even as she’s oppressing us, admire her, even though she insists that we are her subjects to be reigned over.
In a healthy system, we can love and honour the queens and kings in ourselves, and in one another. Namaste, right? I honour the god/goddess in you.
Queens, via the https://lightseerstarot.com
When I undertook Chastity Davis’ Deyen course, on Canadian history through the lens of Indigenous women, I learned that the lands often referred to as Canada were peopled with Matriarchs before contact and colonisation.
Original illustration created for Deyen by Bridget George.
My interpretation is that pre-contact cultures, like many Earth-based cultures, centred Life and women’s wisdom, and that embedded in this, somehow, is the knowing that every individual is sovereign, not a sovereign to rule over others, but within their being, being utterly whole and majestic in and of themselves and with gifts and strengths to bring to the collective.
So, a Queen is dead.
But the world is full of queens, my friends. Everyone around you… a king or a queen, a god or a goddess, a manifestation of the divine, deserving honour and love and respect, and a throne, which in my metaphorical world, means the chance to be seated in your own body and gifts.