While you may jump at the chance to celebrate, spend time with, or pay homage to your mother or motherhood, relationships with moms can be complex. If you are thinking of ways to strengthen or better understand your relationship with your mom (or any mom in your life), consider looking to archetypes of goddesses. Throughout this article, all mentions of “mom,” “mother,” or “your mom” or “your mother,” can be considered to include all understandings of that grand term.
May you honor the moms who are there for you, the moms who are no longer with you, the moms who have adopted you, the moms who left you, the moms who did the best they could with that they had, and the moms who stepped in when mothering was most needed.
What Are Archetypes?
According to Carolina Myss, speaker and author on subjects including human consciousness, spirituality, and mysticism, “Archetypes are universal patterns of behavior that, once discovered, help you better understand yourself and your place in the world.” Archetypes are symbolic representations of your myriad aspects. Working with archetypes is one approach to organizing how and why you do the things you do. You may find resonance in an archetype based on Jungian philosophy, in an Enneagram approach to personality types, or in one or more of the Four Tendencies.
Considering some of the qualities attributed to the goddesses Durga, Yemanjá, Artemis, and Quan Yin may help you appreciate, strengthen, or change your perspective in your relationship with your mom. You may see your mom or yourself represented in one, two, three, or even all four of these goddesses. That’s the thing about archetypes: you carry aspects of each of them within you. It is up to you to tend to and nurture the aspects you wish to call forward on your personal journey. Myss encourages you to suspend judgment when working with archetypes: “Remember that all archetypes are essentially neutral and manifest in both light and shadow attributes.”
Consider how the archetypes of these beloved goddesses might relate to your mom or the mother relationships in your life.
Durga is a warrior, a Hindu goddess of protection and inner strength. According to yoga and meditation expert Sally Kempton, Durga “invites us to turn to her in crisis, and she promises to move mountains to rescue us from every form of evil—including the evil we, ourselves, create!”
Qualities Durga Is Known for
- Inner strength
- Social action
- Spiritual awakening
- Personal transformation
Recognize Durga Within Your Mom
- Find balance and harmony in relation to your mom
- Take responsibility for your own role in your relationship with your mom
- Create and maintain boundaries with your mom as necessary
- Forgive your mom for overprotectiveness
Yemanjá is a Candomblé Orixa, the goddess of the Ocean, who gave birth to all gods and goddesses in the Yoruba tradition. Yemanjá is worshipped at the ocean or in any flowing body of water. If you ever lose your earrings or jewels during a dip in the sea, consider it a gift for the goddess!
Qualities Yemanjá Is Known for
- Bringing new life into the world
- Being fiercely protective
Recognize Yemanjá Within Your Mom
- Ride the waves of emotions that arise in relation to your mom
- Think creatively about how to improve your relationship with your mom
- Wash yourself clean of regrets related to your relationship with your mom with a sacred ritual bath
- Help you dance into a new pattern of relating with your mom
Artemis, also known as Diana, is a forest dweller, the Greek goddess of the hunt. According to interfaith and intercultural expert Laurie Sue Brockway, in A Goddess Is a Girl’s Best Friend: A Divine Guide to Finding Love, Success, and Happiness, Artemis “helps you go after your mark with passion and focus and is a free spirit who empowered independence as she shows you how to make no apologies for going after what you want.”
Qualities Artemis Is Known for
- Inner strength
- True aim
Recognize Artemis Within Your Mom
- Remember that your mom, too, is a wild woman (at any age, the wild woman lives within you)
- "Aim true” in your intentions in your relationship with your mom
- Maintain focus on the healthiest relationship possible with your mom
- Find gratitude for your mom’s unique nature
Quan Yin is a bodhisattva (someone on the path to becoming a Buddha), the Buddhist goddess of compassion. According to Meggan Watterson, theologian, and author of The Divine Feminine Oracle, Quan Yin “represents the presence that listens deeply to our prayers spoken from the heart” and “her name translates in Chinese as ‘the one who perceives the cries of the world.’”
What Qualities Quan Yin Is Known for
- Bearing witness
- Calm, abiding presence
Recognize Quan Yin Within Your Mom
- Listen with care as your mom speaks
- Cultivate compassion for your mom’s experiences and challenges
- Embrace an attitude of kindness toward your mom
- Recognize your mom’s contributions to her community
Looking to the qualities embodied by these goddesses can help you view your mom as a multifaceted and complex human. You may recognize qualities in a goddess that can help you and your mom find common ground. You may recognize qualities in a goddess that can help you appreciate your separateness and uniqueness. As you take on the lifelong work of reconciling and finding peace within your relationship with your mother, no matter your circumstances, allow the goddesses to guide you.