I didn't ever guess that motherhood would be my spiritual path. When I was a really little girl I dreamed, as many little girls do, of having a baby. As I grew older my soul longed for something deep and mystical and all around me in my small hometown I saw people having babies and then working jobs that they didn't enjoy to pay for those babies. Motherhood seemed common and boring, I certainly didn't ever consider being a stay-at-home mom and put very little weight into what motherhood would entail for me.
 
I have felt a strong pull to walk a mystical life ever since I can remember. When I was three years old I was disturbed that a girl in my junior kindergarten class was continually missing due to illness, I approached my Mom with my concern and she suggested we say a prayer for her. From that moment on I asked to pray for Anna every night, I would report to my teachers the next morning that I had been praying for Anna to be well. At the end of that year I proudly carried home the 'prayer' badge that I had been awarded. 
 
As life continued and I grew older, I struggled with anxiety and depression throughout my formative years, the world felt heavy and my pull to the Divine was strong, I didn't know how to find Heaven on Earth and I spent many years thinking that death was my only doorway Home. At the age of 18 I opened up the first of many, many books that explained to me how to experience spirit on Earth. Hope was planted. By 21 I had fully committed myself to walking a spirit led path and left behind mind altering chemicals and began to practice a way of life that required mindfulness, taking stock of my life, amending past harms and a daily surrender to a Higher Power that I call Goddess to guide my thoughts and actions.
 
I have been on this path for 11.5 years now, my spiritual ideals are lofty to some, however I'm not as attached to attaining these ideals perfectly as I am to attaining as much enlightenment and as close a relationship to Goddess as I can in this lifetime. I have utilized many different tools to elevate my consciousness, prayer, meditation (may favourite), yoga, Goddess circles, support groups, therapy, counselling, journalling, ritual, ceremony, rebirthing, integrative breath work, reiki, healing touch, darshan, kirtan, automatic writing, studying, retreats, workshops and ordination to name but a few. I have been grateful and elated to experience the release of selfhood that I have obtained up until now and the bursts of joy that would accompany the work that I put into my spirit, however, it hasn't been until the path of motherhood that I found a path that fully encompassed all of the spiritual ideals that I have and put them into a routine, daily experience. 
 
There has been nothing so frustrating to me as endeavouring to walk a certain way and falling short of my ideals. I truly believe that until my consciousness is changed I can't force the change that I wish to embody. Something magical has happened since becoming a mother, while I still fall short of my ideals, I am able to live them and to be in them in a way that I have never been before. In the past I could act the part, but now I can also feel the part, I can live it. There are many ideals that I get the joy of having in my life since entering the path of motherhood, a few of these ideals that my daughter has blessed me with the ability to begin encompassing are as follows:
 
Presence
 
I have gone back and forth with the level of presence I have been able to achieve on a day to day basis when I was in my Maiden phase of life. Some days I seemed able to ground down and to tap into the earthy energy of the Great Mother and really be disciplined in not wandering. Very often unless I was reading some Eckart Tolle I would forget to be present until my day had ended. A busy world matched my busy mind. I love my imaginative, vivid mind, but when it starts to wander into fearful futures or past regrets it did nothing for me but tear me away from what was. I discovered that even when I was utilizing my mind to imagine, unless I was actively sitting down to create or was consciously choosing to sit and daydream for a moment, my mind was like a t.v. distracting me from the present, once I was given an iPhone all bets were off, instant distraction sat in the palm of my hand and the discipline to resist seemed to have evaporated with the arrival of the flashy screen sitting in front of me.
 
Once I birthed my daughter her presence changed everything. I spent the first month postpartum sitting in, nursing her, praying, meditating, sitting in a dim lit room and playing games and reading with my husband. This practice was easy, I wasn't tempted to do more, in fact the more I was with her the less I wanted to do that would take my attention away from her. As the months wore on I didn't remain seated, and as she grew we increased our activity both inside of and outside of our house. What remained was a strong pull to slow down, to quiet down and to simplify. There are many spiritual ideals that I strive for because I believe in them, I don't desire all of them in the moment to moment of each day, often my ego would prefer ego comfort over spiritual development. 
 
The gift that I have received from motherhood is that I thirst for this presence now, I not only strive for it out of a need for development but I want it and when I want something it makes it so much easier to achieve. 
I still reach for my iPhone much more then I would like, but I don't like it, I don't want to and so every day I pull it out less because the pay off is lessening and what I loose when my face is in my phone I regret. 
 
The other day my daughter and I walked down to the creek, we sat under a trio of trees and watched two mother ducks with their ducklings we just sat and watched. She discovered a piece of bark and while she examined it we became distracted by one of the mother ducks and her ducklings that were wandering towards the waters eded, we both perked up when we thought the mother with the ten ducklings was about to dive into the creek and we wondered aloud about a sound that may have been a frog or a cicada. It was a simple and pure time observing and being a part of natures unfoldment.
 
I had a moment when my ego popped up to tell me that there was surely more productive things I could be doing with my time, was this really what being a stay-at-home mom was? Maybe I should be making money rather than sitting around watching ducks, silly ego, I pushed that aside, looked around me at the majesty of Mother Nature and the beauty of my daughter's face and wondered what in the world would ever take precedence to me introducing her to the mysteries of life. Life with her brings me to the present and when I am off my game and fall out of presence she calls me back, instinctually I am linked to her, it is not safe for my presence to be disconnected from her, so without much effort she calls me back to the present, whether I wish for it or not.
 
Self Love:
 
I didn't realize I loved myself. I knew that as I was growing along my path my self hatred and inner condemnation towards self was lessening. Intellectually I could see that I must value myself on some level as I was making healthy choices with the help of Spirit rather than self destructive ones. I wasn't able, however, to tap into a sense of love for myself on an emotional level.
 
After my daughter Gracious was born, like most new parents, I was flooded with waves of love, overwhelmed really. My first few weeks postpartum I would feel panicky with the intensity of my love for her and with the utter helplessness and vulnerability that she was. As her and I grew together the panic subsided and became a mere hum of motherly concern and I began to observe and marvel at the wonder that was my daughter. It didn't strike me as uncommon or spectacular that I loved her that much, I have heard parents gush for years about the love for a child. The love definitely feels uncommon and spectacular, but what began to strike me was that I was simultaneously loving this child, this infinitely perfect, beautiful girl in front of me and feeling her as an extension of myself, a new link on our ancestral lineage, there would be times when she felt like my purest essence manifested into one cute package.
 
As love would gush through me and I would sense her as me it became clear to me that one of motherhood's greatest blessings to me has been revealing the Divine love that exists for myself from my highest self. I couldn't access this kind of pure love for myself until I birthed a pure version of self into this world. 
 
As I watch her spirit incarnate deeper and deeper into this realm, as I observe the human experience wash over her and participate in the beginning steps of her humanity I am able to love myself all the more fully for my humanity. Whereas I once could conceptualize the idea that I was pure and all impurity was simply a part of the human condition, I couldn't stop identifying with how it felt to participate in the human experience and to get messy in doing so. I hated my humanity. 
 
My whole heart lights up when I watch Gracious throw her puzzle piece in frustration because she can't get it to fit. I soften and go to her and we find a way to make it fit together and as I see the beauty and the sweetness in her first exposure to life not quite fitting as it seems it should I let myself off the hook for all of the times that I throw a piece of my day on the floor in sheer anger and exhaustion. I love her humanity, she is me but separate and she teaches me to love me.
 
Love For Others:
 
One of the reasons that I was called to a Feminine Mystic Path rather than simply a mystical one was that when I practiced mysticism early on I found myself disconnected from others. When people would share their pain or struggles with me I would inwardly know that they were suffering from illusion and I would hold that truth in order for a higher vibration to come in. I didn't express true empathy, neither could I grieve for myself or others. When I found my Goddess circle I knew that if I married the two systems, Goddess spirituality with mysticism I could experience my heart and emotions while still upholding the truth. This gave me a sound spiritual foundation to love others as myself. 
 
Even with Feminine Mysticism I found that loving others, beyond those in my personal circle or people suffering from something that I could personally relate to, with the instruction to "love others as yourself", was a struggle due to the fact that I hadn't fully tapped into my love for self yet. As I mentioned about, having my daughter opened up that arena of love towards self and it has been motherhood that has taught me about loving others.
 
Once I began to see myself in my daughter I began to see myself in everybody. When somebody was rude to me, didn't acknowledge me or went on and on, I could find myself in that person. Those behaviours are a part of my humanity but they are not who I am and therefore are not who the person exhibiting them is either, I became able to genuinely love others despite their behaviour.  
 
I know that each person that I meet is at the core of themselves a star self shining radiantly just like Gracious is. I had known this before on an intellectual basis only, now this truth sank down from my head right into my heart.
 
Loving others after motherhood was twofold, I began to recognize myself in others and I began to recognize my daughter in others. Some of my first profound moments after birth was realizing that each person that I met were once as pure, innocent and beloved by parents (hopefully) as my daughter. I would watch how they interacted with others and think to myself, "if this was my daughter in 20 years how would I want others to treat her?". If somebody was obnoxious I would imagine that my daughter as a young woman was behaving obnoxiously, what if something had occurred in her life or her esteem that made her wear the mask of obnoxiousness? I would want everybody to embrace her in love and understanding, to love my baby exactly the way that I would. From this perspective every person felt personally precious and beloved to me.
 
Unconditional Love:
 
I knew a wise and quirky old man that used to say "if it ain't unconditional it ain't love baby," perhaps this category would be more aptly called unconditionally loving as I tend to agree with Hugh that love is unconditional in and of itself.
 
In essence what becoming a mother has taught me is that I have the capacity for pure, unadulterated unending love that falters at no time, regardless of the situation. I have this love every day, at every moment for my daughter. The days when she is fussy and ornery and I just want a moments peace there isn't even a flicker in my love metre towards her. 
 
This type of love has enabled me along with the above blessings to show up in the world as I had hoped and endeavoured to for years. I have studied and admired the works of the great lovers of the world and longed for the ability to feel the tenderness and the purity of their love towards human kind, yet I generally wanted nothing but a bubble into which I could fall into personal space, study and quiet. My introverted nature hasn't changed but my access to the part of me that loves as Source loves has been opened since my initiation into motherhood.
 
 
Faith:
 
A new faith, one that took the theorizing and put it into a daily experience for me has been born within me. 
 
There is nothing like holding a newborn infant in your arms, witnessing their absolute helplessness and feeling your own fallibility as a human to know that there is not only Something bigger than us governing us but a Something that is all powerful. 
 
Beyond our affirmations, manifestations, desires and dreams there's such little control that we have over the mystery of life that is weaving itself. 
 
I rocked in the dark one afternoon with my then 2 month old little girl sleeping in my arms and I silently wept. I was certain that my postpartum bleeding would require me to be hospitalized and separated from my daughter, I was devastated. I didn't know how to pray, and so I ventured into the dark recesses of my soul and began to try to pray, as I did Ma Durga came to me. I knew and felt in my bones that that within my baby was the Goddess who at the time was revealing herself to me as Ma Durga. It became clear to me that there was a Great Mother that would always care for my baby with or without me. This knowledge didn't make the prospect of separation (which didn't happen I was fine) any more palpable for me but this revelation has stayed with me during the many fears that pop up for me in raising my maiden. Ma Durga is within her, Ma Durga has her and is a fierce mother, she is okay. I am okay, for if the Great Mother loves and cares for my daughter surely she does for me as well.
 
Presence, love in her myriad of forms and faith are the big ones, the big revelations that have come to bless my days with my daughter. Simplicity has snuck in, silence, rest, patience and a softening has come along with my first steps upon the path of motherhood. My bloodline has become infinitely more important since adding a new female to our lineage and my connection to the earth and her inhabitants has deepened.
 
It is of no big surprise to me that as I finished this months article up, the one about the spiritual path of motherhood, I was also premenstrual and short and snappy with my girl, the exact opposite of the picture I have just written about. There is so much 'mommy guilt' that women experience and from that guilt there is an uprising against false portrayals of motherhood as bliss in an attempt to gloss over the struggles. That is not my attempt in my sharing. I know it isn't all buttercups and rainbows, some days are hard, really hard, harder than I've ever known. 
 
What I am sharing about this month is that motherhood itself, the role of becoming a mother, has opened me up to a new level of spiritual practice. Motherhood, this sacred role in the world that is all too often discounted or minimized for it's importance has rocketed me into a new dimension of actualization, and it isn't because of practicing a zen approach to motherhood, (though I am partial to attachment parenting and a lot of the early years Waldorf principles), it is just from being a Mom, a simple Mom that stays home and raises her daughter and goes for walks, bakes, does laundry, and plays with her child. These simple moments of parenting that can seem dull or lacklustre when compared to all that glitters in the media, these simple moments are the ones that have opened me up and transformed my life deeper and in a more profound way than any of the exciting journeys I have taken prior to motherhood. 
 
My egoic desires for fame, fortune and adoration have been replaced with a serenity and a deep appreciation for the simple, the true, the authentic parts of life. I have also gained such profound respect for all of the women that have mothered before me, the ones that stay home, the ones that go out into the world to work, the ones that work from home, the ones that work with their babies, the ones that raise other peoples babies, all forms, every form of the mother as a mother on this planet has such deep reverence and respect from me.
 
I could have never guessed that this path that I strove for, these depths that I longed for, the benevolence that I worked to attain would come to me through the path of motherhood. 
 
To all of the mothers that are mothering with me, this path, this often overlooked, under appreciated and taken for granted path is the sacred path. This is our gift and together as we rise up we bring the Great Mother back into this realm. 
 
I call upon all mothers that are mothering their children, projects, pets, nature and the world at large to stand firm and proud in the importance and the magic that we bring into the world. Becoming a mother, stepping into the mother role on this planet opens us up to becoming a conduit for the Great Mother Goddess to work through us, Her presence re-enters this realm through us. This is how I Priestess as a mother, by recognizing that every simple task and every private precious moment that is known only to my daughter and I, are in actuality deep and profound openings for Goddess to flow into this realm. Let us never discount the importance of what it is that we are doing by signing up to be mothers. Motherhood it seems is one of the most transformative spiritual practices that there is and the world needs our love now more than ever.
 
Blessings Mama's.
 
Grace Be With You,
Priestess of Grace,
Candise Soaring Butterfly 
 
 
image taken from: http://www.anandasart.com/pix/D4x.jpg?1432457028