“As women, we are able to call forth life from the other side and cultivate that life in the quiet space below our hearts. Within our bodies, we hold an opening to the divine, a portal that allows souls to enter into this world. Because we are connected to the divine through the space covered by our hearts, we are also the keepers of divine intuition and heart-based wisdom. Thus, the teachings that we carry are essential for keeping our societies spiritually healthy and emotionally balanced.” — Weh’na Ha’mu Kwasset, Sacred Instructions
My mother and I were carried in the womb of a giant who was pulled out of school in 3rd grade to pick cotton in Scooba, Mississipi. She was carried in a womb shaken by institutional poverty, the regular occurrence of lynchings and other state-sanctioned white terrorism. My grandmother and many mothers like her followed their intuition out of the south to protect their children. Intuition and protection are divine feminine tools of survival.
Our grandmothers are divine.
I was carried in the womb of a Goddess who was raised in Waukegan, Illinois — a highly volatile abolitionist town with a heavy KKK presence just north of Chicago. She was a teenager when the town erupted in racial violence, and the tattered bandages of trauma passed on in the wombs she was carried in was torn off. My mother, like mothers like her, is a survivor of so many things that those riots would become a lower case ‘t’ trauma in comparison. Divine Feminine energy is survival energy
Our mothers are divine.
“…intergenerational trauma doesn’t necessarily result from widespread social calamity. It can also result from unresolved trauma endured by mothers, or from trauma experienced by parents, grandparents, and further descendants, who can, knowingly or unknowingly, pass it down through feelings, memories, and even language.” — By Ijeoma Njaka & Duncan Peacock, Addressing Trauma as a Pathway to Social Change
Today, as we gather to celebrate and remember our mothers as a collective, I am naming these things in the shadow of an apology I waited what seems like a lifetime for me to receive. Earlier this week, when my mother told me she was sorry for not being there for us emotionally, in the way she felt she needed to be, in the way she felt we deserved, I didn’t suddenly feel better like I imagined I would when she acknowledged the hurt we experienced. Instead, it only brought me face to face with her hurt, and the humanity she was denied — by white supremacist delusion, by the Black men she allowed herself to love, by the death of her Black son, and by the defiance of her own daughters. We were hers and I imagine all she felt she had, and in a world where the Black woman is not defended and the divine feminine nearly eradicated, in a world where intuition and protection, sensual energies she needed to employ shamed, her parenting was crippled and our family tumbled into the chaos colonialism perpetuates.
“Healing our lineage is also healing our lives” — Prentis Hemphill, The Wisdom of Process
As the director of an organization that centers the Black Woman and our pleasure, today invites a special challenge to me, as I think about the mother. I am called to reflect on the relationship between trauma (both big and little “t”) and pleasure, the ways I call on community to move trauma from our bodies, and all the barriers and enemies that show up to stop it. I am also looking for the medicine to employ when we are the enemy and the barrier. Our grandmothers didn’t have access to the tools we expect of each other when we talk healing, love and parenting today. As we move towards liberation, healing our lineage is a part of the medicine we need as much as orgasm is. The pleasure mapping we practice on our bodies and on the bodies of our lovers is sweet because it acknowledges space where pleasure and trauma both live in the body, making room for the expansion of the prior. Making room for that healing requires us to make room for our mother’s pain and the pain of their mothers, and we have to move the trauma of that pain from our bodies.
“There were times in my mother’s and my grandmother’s lives that they were engulfed in darkness, and I watched them navigate that darkness and keep moving forward, taking one step and moving forward, not towards perfection, but moving forward towards something else. Even with no one to tell them “you can do this’’ there was that internal spark that kept them moving through the hurt and the pain.” Resmaa Menakem
It is important to me, today as I honor my mother and hers, that I name the trauma that settled into our bodies. Today, I want to dance it away with my mother, listen to Stevie Wonder’s AS, like we do sometimes. I wonder what life would have been for them if they had the opportunity to share medicine, to gather publicly and dance with dignity, releasing trauma in the way our ancestors knew best, without the risk of involuntary psychiatric institutionalization.
Today, I am gathering the medicine to share with the community of Black women I have been called to serve. That medicine is in the way we speak, dance, fuck and play. The medicine is in the way we gather and commune, protect and intuit, bear and raise children. As a medicine woman, I know this is an arduous task — and as I continue to gather, I will share. Thank you for supporting this work and for supporting and loving the Black mother, from up close and afar, because of and in spite of it all.
Happy Mother’s Day.
In Pleasure and Power,