Mother (Matriarch, Mother Nature, Parent)
The Mother is the life-giver, the source of nurturing and nourishment, unconditional fountain of love, patience, devotion, caring, and unselfish acts. This archetype is the keeper and protector of life, from children to the family to (in the greater Mother Nature archetype) the earth and all life. Mother Nature, also known as Gaia, is the Goddess of Life, the caretaker of the living environment of this planet. She is recognized as powerful, and when storms leave death and destruction in their wake, she may be referred to as wrathful. The power of compassion and the endless capacity to forgive her children and put them before herself are essential to the Good Mother. The Devouring, Abusive, Abandoning, and Working Mother each represent different aspects of this primal archetype within the entire human community.
Although Mothers have always worked, the contemporary archetype of the Career or Working Mother reflects the crises experience by many women who seek also to be Devoted Mothers. Measured against the impossible mythic ideal of the Perfect Mother, the Career Mom is sometimes assumed unfairly to be a mother who puts her own needs before those of the children. This is an archetypal crisis for many women.
The Devouring Mother “consumes” her children psychologically and emotionally and often instills in them feelings of guilt at leaving her or becoming independent. The Abusive and Abandoning Mothers violate natural law by harming their own young.
Connections to the Mother archetype are not to be measured only by whether a woman is a biological mother. If you are intimately connected to nurturing and protecting the environment, including gardening or farming or supporting any life form, you should strongly consider whether your bond to Mother Nature is part of a lifelong devotion that defines you. You may also recognize a strong bond to the Mother archetype in the form of one or all her shadows. While it is difficult to admit, some women may have to face the fact that their children see them through the shadow aspects of the Mother, including the Abusive or Abandoning Mother.
Just as women can have a real connection to the Father archetype when they take on the paternal role in the household, so some men may relate to being “Mr Mom” yet another contemporary sculpting of the Mother archetype. The qualities that are associated with this archetype can be expressed in other than biological ways, such as giving birth to books or ideas or by nurturing others.
Films: Irene Dunne in I Remember Mama; Myrna Loy in Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on Their Toes; Sophie Loren in Two Women; Sally Field in Places in the Heart; Anne Bancroft in The Pumpkin Eater; Rosalind Russell in Gypsy (devouring); Katherine Hepburn in Suddenly Last Summer (shadow); Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest (shadow); Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate (shadow); Gladys Cooper in Now Voyager (shadow); Alberta Watson in Spanking the Monkey (incestuous).
Dramas: Mother Courage by Bertolt Brecht; Medea by Euripides; The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams.
Religion/Myths: As with Gods, Goddesses, and Mystics, the Mother appears in all religious traditions and myth, usually as the Divine Mother, These are just a few examples: Lakshmi, Durga, and Kali (Hinduism); Mary/Miryam (Christianity/Islam); Sarai and Naomi (Judaism); Cybele (fertility goddess of ancient Antolia, also known as the Great Mother); Demeter (Greek myth); Isis (Egyptian myth); Tellus (Roman Mother Earth goddess); Cihuacoatl (Aztec Mother Earth goddess, also patron of birth and of women who die in childbirth).
Fairy Tales: Mother Goose, Mother Hubbard
Myss, Caroline. Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential. New York: Three Rivers
Press, 2002, 2003. 366. Print.