Sometimes the only positive reflections one has on fatherhood are those rooted in one's childhood fantasies. Fantasies that depict a role model who exudes a balance of his masculine and feminine side. One who is strong, yet gentle; one who is protective, yet allows autonomy. One who is ambitious, yet revels in the passive times. One who puts up the good fight, but gives in when called for. One who knows himself, but sees you.
In Celtic/Gaelic mythology, Cernunnos or the Horned God, is the god of life, animals, wealth, and fertility. He is represented as masculine, but embraces his feminine side. He is born of Mother Earth and is protector of it, and its creatures. He is wise, and understands that the old must make wave for the new. He, like the antlers of a stag, not only represent power and strength, but he is representative of life, death, and re-birth.
For it is the father who helps shape future generations of men. It is imperative that he embraces this task not only looking forward with hope, but looking back for knowledge. He must have compassion for the vulnerable, yet the fortitude to forge ahead in adversity! Reflectively, I see myself!
Motherhood can be seen as a culmination of all of the experiences a woman has lived long before she becomes a mother. A representation of how she is shaped by the mistakes she makes, the lessons she has learned, and the lives that have touched her.
Motherhood also encompass many stages in a woman's life:
In Celtic/Gaelic cultures the Maiden represents enchantment, new beginnings, birth, and youthful enthusiasm, as represented by the waxing moon. She is joyous and hopeful for the future.
As the Mother she represents fertility, fulfilment, stability, power and life, as represented by the full moon. She is alive with the promise of new life, ready to take on the new challenges and experiences of motherhood.
As the Crone she represents wisdom, death, and endings, as represented by the waning moon. After her children move on, she is at peace with the knowledge that she has made her contribution - passing on the wisdom that will shape the next generation.
If you transport yourself back in time you can witness a First Blood ceremony in the Celtic/Gaelic culture. This was a celebration of a girl's passage into womanhood, or her first menses. Often, she was gifted a sword, as a symbol of victory or strength (or perhaps to ward off suitors).
Some parents, fearful of the negative consequences of this passage, would bind her in impenetrable material. This practice was later replaced with the less restrictive practice of placing a white handkerchief around her head as a mark of distinction, respect and honour.
We have much to learn about honouring and guiding our young women to welcome the changes in their bodies.
Yes, it is messy, but it is beautiful, and it represents power; the power to carry, nourish, and bear life. Sometimes at a great cost to the female body.
It is time to unwind the tightly bound hold we have on the truth about that female body, and reveal, not only the good, but the bad, and the ugly!
When your life, your parent's lives, and those of your ancestors were fraught with struggle, it is often difficult to find faith in anything. Even harder still to make positive connections with the themes typically associated with motherhood, fatherhood, and rites of passage.
Challenged by the meaning of faith, I turned to the cultural traditions, beliefs, and mythology, of my ancestors. The Celtic/Gaelic people find connection with five elements, represented by the Elemental Pentagram: earth, air, water, fire, spirit. The circle represents unity or wholeness, universal wisdom and protection.
Faith for me lies in the connections we have with the earth and with each other. On the hope that we all have the wisdom to understand that we are all connected. On the hope that we may all share for the future, spurred by the positive impact of what we leave behind. Faith that the mark we leave on the earth, on others, on generations of our children, will make a positive difference in some way!