by Monica Sjöö
"People have in all times known that the
ancestors, who are the dead, who are ourselves, always guide and teach
us. The people in trance states listen to the voices of the spirits
whispering and roaring in subterranean waters under red ochre crevices
looking like vaginas. The closest I have come to this experience was
spending time on my own whilst drawing within the subterranean
temple/womb/tomb on Malta, the Hypogeum where the Great Mother and Her
spirits dwell. Yes, I believe that the figurines of the Goddess
facilitated the entrance (through Her opening/Yoni) into the
'subterranean womb, assuring a place of regeneration'. I believe that
my own paintings are similar portals to and from other worlds.
The sacred sites of the Goddess - such as the stone
circles, standing stones, holy wells, mounds representing the Earth's
pregnant womb - are also places of trance-states and communications
with other realms or the worlds of the Faerie/ancestors/the dead.
There is at all times a telepathic communication, an umbilical cord,
between us and the Mother Earth. We are, after all, her children
although we have forgotten. Ever since a powerful initiation to the
Goddess in the land of Avebury and Silbury in 1978, I have pilgrimaged
to Her sacred sites. My very first initiation to the Great Mother had
been during the natural home birth of my second son in 1961. During
that incredibly powerful birth I had seen in my mind's eye great
radiant masses of darkness alternating with great masses of light,
coming and going. Although I didn't know it then, this was the Goddess
who is both Dark and Light, beyond all polarities. Did she show
herself to me in Her pure energy-body? This changed my life and set me
on a life-long search for the ancient women-led cultures of the
Goddess. Ever since the 60s I experienced these ancient women -
sisterhoods who co-exist with us now in another time-space,
communicating with me, and speaking through me. I am their medium.
Birth was a Sacrament in Goddess times and women gave birth in sacred
enclosures by holy wells aided by The Mothers, triple wise women, who,
like the Norns, wove, maintained and cut the web of life.
The ancient shaman women or Shamankas also acted as
guides for the dying as they returned to the womb of the Mother; birth
and death being the two sides of the same process, coming and going.
Circumstances that led up to my son's death in 1985 made me fear my
own work and even the Great Mother, who, after all, had taken him. I
had to keep reminding myself that I was only his earthly mother while
She is his greater Mother. During some years I lived in a twilight
world of shadows and pain. In the meantime, my oldest son was
diagnosed with lymphoma cancer and died, twenty eight years old, and
like his brother on a full moon. I have come to understand through
years of grief that not only was I the birthing Shaman woman bringing
my sons to this realm, but I was also the Shamanka who had to witness
their deaths. There is a great similarity between the birth and death
process, such as traveling through the dark channel from the dark
womb into the light of day, into the light of the Goddess Otherworld
at death, coming and going. She is the great luminous Mother of the
dead or ancestors who await us and She is the great Dark Mother of the
fertile Earth that gives us life. She who is both Dark and Light.
gives birth to Nature - 1992
It has dawned on me while writing this that I
didn't really believe in an afterlife in the past, even though I spoke
of how the Blessed live on in the womb of the Great Mother awaiting
rebirth. These were just words. It is only after my sons' deaths,
lucid dreams in which they visit me, experiences when my young son
went into the Otherworld - that I 'know' in my bones that there is a
life eternal and that She, the Mother, always transforms. This has
been a great gift. I now do not fear death and look forward to being
with my sons again."
From the Introduction
to "Midwifing Death:
Returning to the Arms of the Ancient
by Leslene della-Madre [Plain View Press, 2005].