In Spirit: Woman and God
To give birth, oddly enough, is also to die. It begins with pregnancy, a kind of tree of life that the expectant mother embodies. She is taken by an irresistible vital current that grows in her. It’s a feeling like no other when not fighting it. It is a tidal wave that can even feel, at times, like an overflow that the body cannot contain.
God creates life, women too. The woman possesses within her the capacity to have the divine experience of creation. At the heart of her womb, her pelvis—energetic centre of the body—the seed is transmuted to grow, the world is made. Despite all odds, all by itself, creation takes place in its most animalistic and instinctive way, which makes it magnificent. We face the deeply human, since this is in the heart of the flesh, giving birth to a new being, that the incarnation begins. It is, at the same time, the divine which manifests itself, that Consciousness takes shape.
Women are at the forefront of the creative process. Their own body is the mechanic that orchestrates all the functioning of the respiratory, digestive, neuro-cognitive, endocrine, cardiovascular, urogenital, sensory, musculoskeletal systems of the future child. It also creates the brain in which thought happens, the enigmatic system of knowledge. This vehicle is formed during the nine months of gestation so that the Consciousness becomes embodied. The body becomes a receptacle, a vessel of the future being. For this reason, the image of the mother and child has been portrayed so many times across ages and cultures. This figure, which also belongs to religious art, sees a very early representation of the Virgin holding the adult Jesus on her knees in miniature; it is called sedes sapientiae, the “Seat of Wisdom” or “Throne of Wisdom.”
We then wonder why, for so many centuries, women have been discarded and diminished. And in fact, we understand very well the reason. They are a threat as they symbolize this direct dynamic of creation of the spiritual and divine state, anchored in the matter. She personifies the verticality between earth and sky, in all the aspects that it entails.
But this current, beyond being a woman, must be understood as the feminine archetype to which everyone can have access. I have met a few men with heightened sensitivity who are very touched by motherhood. This empathy is living this experience in a certain way. To recognize it, is to have access to this reality that exists in everyone. In contrast, I have also faced men and women in total rejection of pregnancy. Experience despised because it is too emotional, too down to earth. As if it were to demean oneself to what is most human in its animal form, where the carnal incarnation is in opposition to the divine dissolution. However, not everything that is human is incompatible with the spiritual. On the contrary, you have to incarnate your body to touch the divine, so that the door to verticality opens. The rejection of all that is deeply embodied, as it is confronted in this relationship to childbirth, is only the reflection of an open wound at an unaccepted history.
The maternal archetype invites self-forgetting in order to let the other be with its own correctness, to welcome its fragility and its inner journey. As for the connection to the mother, it is in fact the connection to the guru, God, the world. Totally explore these two types of relationships (from mother to child and from child to mother) accepting them in their human and carnal component from which we come, in a way, it is quite simply to anchor oneself in our substance, so that it can receive vertical information.
After childbirth, it’s death. The hair of the woman-turned-mother falls like tree leaves in autumn. The body is changing again. It will take three years to recover from this pregnancy-childbirth-breastfeeding fully. When giving life, it is an aspect of ourselves that dies. That is what our body is telling us. We empty ourselves of our substance. After giving everything for nine months to create a human being, during childbirth to expel him, a part of us dies like a snake that moults and sheds old skin. Death and life are deeply linked. There can be no life without death, and death is always thwarted by life. It is in this balance that the movement of creation can operate and constantly regenerate.
Death is also about challenging old beliefs that jump out at us when we’re ready to see them. I have often heard, “if I had encountered yoga earlier, I would not have made certain mistakes” or “if I had matured earlier, I could have avoided certain pitfalls in my life.” Good news: you couldn’t have avoided anything. Awareness, clarity, or maturity have nothing to do with what you experience. What happens to you belongs to another category. You live what you have to live. A person who goes through complex stages in their life does not mean that she is more pathological than one who has a quiet life. Sometimes, it is even the opposite. There is no communicating vase between deep maturity and the events of our existence. On the other hand, work on oneself offers hindsight in the face of events. Knowing my emotions, limits, and internal mechanisms is a toolbox that allows dealing with the unexpected. It is it that will make a difference when the events are encountered. In other words, to use a metaphor: we are like sailors surfing the ocean. Self-knowledge and my inner life are my boat. Life and its events, the sea. Just because I am building a big strong boat, it doesn’t mean that it will have any impact on the sea. The sea has its own raison d’être, its weather. On the other hand, my boat will allow me to face the tumults of the ocean. Moral of the story, if you put all your might to change the ocean’s mood, it is a wasted task that will wear you out to no avail. Instead, put your energy into building yourself a sturdy boat rather than cruising on a raft.
A child does not prevent anything. He reveals the person; in front of the child, one can no longer pretend. Yoga becomes more of an internal sadhana than an external one. Self-exploration unfolds through this new being inhabiting our lives, as if for the first time, we were learning to really inhabit ourselves. I integrate the matter, and by doing so, it is to the spiritual that I have access, because ultimately, they resonate from the same divine background.
Image #1 : Maternity by Olivia
Image #2 & #3 : Maternity by Nicolas Bourque
Image #4 : Maternity (self-portrait) by Mariette Raina
Image #5 : Maternity by Anshul Mehta
About the Author
Mariette Raina has a master’s degree in Anthropology. Yoga has always been part of her life since she met the teaching Kashmirian yoga and its tradition in 2008. Since she is 25 she regularly travels to France, Brazil, Chile and Canada to teach yoga. As an artist, she uses the mediums of the body, photography and writing to investigates the act of perception, the relationship to the image, as well as the body as a vehicle of expression between tradition and modern times. Since 2015 she has been teaching photography at the Cultural Activities of the University of Montreal.
Mariette joined the Never Apart center team in 2016 as a writer of monthly articles for the spiritual column, where she also organized an exhibition in 2018 Traces of life: a journey from Canada to South Asia and worked on Dax Dasilva’s project Age of Union.
Follow Mariette on Instagram.
I am the sovereign ruler of this universe,
the gatherer of the treasure of the light of knowledge,
the knower of the Truth,
the foremost to be worshiped.
The gods have placed me in the world in many ways
and forms-I have countless dwelling places,
and I am also the seat of all that exists. ||3||
Through me alone one consumes food,
perceives, breathes, and hears what is said.
Even those who do not know or understand me
are close to me.
Listen, O wise one, to what I am saying to you-
it is that which is to be trusted and believed. ||4||
I myself proclaim that which both the gods
and human beings should embrace-
I make powerful whomever I am pleased with;
I make that person a sage, a seer,
a knower of Brahman. ||5||
At the summit of this cosmos,
I bring forth the primordial heavens.
My origin is the innermost waters of the ocean.
From there I move throughout the entire universe
with its existing life-forms, and I touch that
which is beyond the heavens
with the highest part of my own being. ||7||
Like the wind, I breathe forth the entire creation.
I am higher than the sky
and greater than the earth-
such is the might and grandeur I have attained. ||8||
Rig Veda 10.8.125 (aka. Vak Suktham, excerpt)