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By Mike Hembury

It’s a painful thing to watch your mother die.

It’s really not something I would recommend.

I remember being caught up in a huge, conflicted mass of swirling emotion. Love, sorrow, grief, anger, rage even, at the squalid inequalities of an English hospital. Shame at my own helplessness, my inability to stop a process I knew I had no control over. And also, somewhere deep with the chaos, a sense of impending relief, a knowledge that her suffering was coming to an end.

It’s a terrible, unbearable thing to watch your mother die. Maybe it doesn’t have to be that way, but that’s the way it was for me.

* * * *

I think we’ve got it all wrong about motherhood.

By we, I mean the cultures of the Anglosphere.

We have this sugar-coated Madonna thing going, all dewy-eyed and brimming with self-sacrifice. And our dominant culture of masculinity means that after spending our infant years in an oceanic symbiosis with an all-powerful female figure, men and boys are supposed to spend the rest of our lives repressing the female within and oppressing the female without.

So basically, if you’re a guy, you might love your mum, but it’s still her fault. It’s all her fault. And if it wasn’t her fault, you’d have to admit that you weren’t born fully formed from Adam’s rib—(what fucking moron thought that one up?)—but emerged mewling, screaming, and absolutely dependent from the woman who gave you birth.

You’d have to learn some humility, for god’s sake.

You’d have to see yourself as part of something bigger.

You’d have to get off of your phallic high horse.

* * * *

Other cultures have different things going with motherhood.

The ancient Hindus for example had the goddess Kali Ma, a fearsome warrior progenitrix of all that is living, fountain of love, terrifying to the unbeliever:

“As a Mother, Kali was called Treasure-House of Compassion (karuna), Giver of Life to the World, the Life of all lives. Despite the popular western belief that she is just a Goddess of destruction, she is the fount of every kind of love, which flows into the world through women, her agents on earth. Thus, it is said of a male worshipper of Kali, “bows down at the feet of women,” regarding them as his rightful teachers.

Some say the name Eve perhaps originated from Kali’s leva or Jiva, the primordial female principle of manifestation; she gave birth to her “first manifested form” and called him Idam (Adam). She also bore the same title given to Eve in the Old Testament: Mother of All Living (Jaganmata).

Although referred to as “the One,” Kali was always a trinity Goddess: Virgin, Mother, and Crone. This triad formed perhaps nine or ten millennia ago has been manifested in many cultures: the Celts with their triple Morrigan, the Greeks with their triple Moerae, the Norsemen with their Norns, the Romans with their Fates … Kali can be identified everywhere. Her trinity is recognized in the Christian triple Godhead; some conclude this Godhead is all male, not noting that in the Hebrew Old Testament the word for Spirit, ruwach, was of feminine gender.”
Barbara G Walker, The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secret

Kali is one mean wolf mother.

She is the bared fangs of the alpha female.

Unpredictable. Vengeful. Terrifying. The harbinger of epochal change.



Don’t get me wrong. I’m not religious.

I’m just saying, there needs to be a paradigm shift.

Patriarchal capitalism has dumbed things down to an incredible degree. Has plumbed the depths of violence, hatred, misogyny, ecocide. Is digging deeper, planning to ride out the global crisis on a wave of arms and profits, while war and famine spread and the global environment is damaged beyond repair.

Is sacrificing the Earth to the black snake of Oil and Money.

* * * *

It’s a painful thing to watch your mother die.

And if we feel shame at our own helplessness, our inability to stop a process we have no control over, then that’s ok. It’s even a good thing, a measure of our love. And shame can be a precursor to anger, and action.

Because there is no need for all of this.

Because the antidote to powerlessness begins with taking back the power.

Begins with refusing authority, and contesting the talking shops of male power and privilege.

Begins with resistance, and solidarity, and organization.

It was always thus.

But there’s one big difference.

Time is running out.

In terms of preventing long-term catastrophic ecological damage to our planet, the clock has just struck midnight.

The million-strong women’s protests in early 2017 have helped reignite the global feminist movement. The non-violent global insurrection against oil pipelines and fracking is a beacon of ecological resistance. The indigenous opposition to Amazon mining and oil exploration shows how resistance can flourish in the face of overwhelming odds. The women’s self-defence units of Rojava show the way forward against the most reactionary forms of male violence. And the Brazilian General Strike shows how power can be contested in complex societies.

We need to carry these and our own struggles forward and show solidarity in any way we can.

The old world is dying. Our world is dying. There’s a new world waiting to be born.

So this Mother’s Day: I’m with Kali and the She-Wolves.

Mike Hembury is an Anglo-Berliner originally from Portland, England.  He’s a writer, translator, musician, coder, sailor, environmentalist and guitar nerd in no particular order.  You can follow Mike on Twitter here: