I am on a retreat in the middle of Dartmoor. The week offers an opportunity to drop into the shadowlands of our unconscious minds and bodies, and to explore this inner terrain. This essay recounts an archetypal encounter with shadow, fear, and transformation, which was inspired by the outer terrain of the moors themselves. It is published in the anthology, ‘Women on Nature’ edited by Katherine Norbury.
In a wide-ranging conversation, Sara Avant Stover and I explored Death Mother from several perspectives. Sara’s own insights prompted me to move between different areas of my research, and our exchange encompassed trauma psychology, Jungian analysis, anthropology, evolution and personal experience
Growing up traumatised our lives become rooted in a different reality – one I’ve called a ‘trauma-world’. Marion Woodman’s work can help us to bring trauma-worlds into consciousness. Additionally, the BodySoul Rhythms® approach that she developed together with dance educator Mary Hamilton, and voice coach Ann Skinner, can help us to move beyond trauma-worlds into a healthier reality.
The Death Mother as Nature’s Shadow: Fostering compassion and healing through an evolutionary consciousness
Western culture tends to view maternal ambivalence and hostility as unnatural. Evolutionary research challenges this view. The situations faced by ancestral mothers sometimes made abandoning a child inevitable. Recognising this fosters compassion for today’s struggling mothers, as well as greater understanding of the trauma carried by their children.
The Death Mother is best understood when approached with compassionate curiosity and from a variety of perspectives. Here she is explored through Jungian, psychodynamic, evolutionary and anthropological lenses. The aim is to help both mothers who are living this damaging energy, and those who grow up damaged through encounters with this energy.
Marion Woodman was pivotal in forging an awareness of the Death Mother, and the life-denying impact this force has on both bodies and minds. In this powerful interview, Woodman shares her understanding, drawing on Jungian thought, literature, and also her personal experience both as an analyst and as a woman facing her own internalised Death Mother.
Precious opportunities for my healing and growth came from Marion Woodman/ BodySoul Rhythms® workshops. In these workshops we called on myths, masks, movement, voice, art and dreams to discover aspects of what we held in our unconscious minds and bodies. This chapter recounts my experience of those workshops. It is published in ‘Love Matters for Psychic Transformation’ by Jungian analyst, Maja Reinau.