Around the world, the cycle of pregnancy, birth and becoming Mother––as well as women’s other blood mysteries of menstruation and menopause––is revered and acknowledged with elaborate ceremonies; women are recognized as the source of all creation, or as Tamara Slayton describes—as “vessels of spiritual fire” (Baker 1986:222). It is no small miracle to have two people making use of one external body.
It is no small matter that a woman can nourish life with milk produced in her breasts.An Orthodox Jewish woman described that in her tradition, a woman in her Moontime is revered for reflecting the creative power of the Divine: the power to bring another human being into life. Thus, she is treated deferentially by men, especially during this time in her monthly cycle. This role as creator and bearer of life is recognized by most cultures as one of utmost power; females are respected, feared and held in awe for this primal blood mystery.
The Power of Ma! In Assam, India, there is a temple specifically honoring the “yoni” or vagina of the Goddess Khamakya. Once a year at this temple, the goddess is said to be menstruating. Men and women from around the country stop work and come to the temple to honor her fertility. Flowing deep inside the temple is a stream that turns red at this time of year. People stand in line for days to be able to kneel by this stream and collect the healing water—the menstrual blood of Khamakya. Women often run out of the temple, moved by their contact with the Great Mother goddess, crying and calling out, “Ma, Ma, Ma.”
–Czech: MATKA, MATINKA
–Vietnamese: ME, ME DE
–Western Abenaki (Quebec) MAMAN–“food (baby talk)”
–Latin: MAMMA, “breast”
–Hawaiian: MAMA, “to chew, but not swallow”(such as mothers pre-masticating food for infants)
Some tribes of people, like the Assam in Africa, call themselves “maharis”, or “motherhoods.”