Gatekeepers at the Creative Portal

Have you ever seen a sheelanagig?

 These carved female figurines stood as guardians, carved over the thresholds of medieval church doorways in Celtic lands. Hand on their vulvas, holding them open, drawing our focus to the opening…

They are the strangest discrepancy in a world that is hell bent on covering our womanhood. Who dared to put them there? I have no idea… but the message of the sheelanagig over the door to the church – the portal of patriarchal religion – is a clear reminder to women that LOOK, the doorway to transcendence and sanctuary lies within you – this open vulva is the portal… this is YOUR way as a woman.

And the priest most certainly won’t tell you that when you step inside – he will tell you your body is dangerous and dirty and not to be trusted. That birth is punishment and sex a sin…

It was at the end of writing my book on creativity for mothers, The Rainbow Way, that I realised, an embodied knowing, that the source, the realm of spirit, creativity, sexuality  is one and the same – the place we go to, the thing we touch and try to bring back… it is one and the same. And once we open fully to one, the others often tend to open too. Opening the portal takes you into the transcendent realm which is where the deep river flows… the deep, deep waters… energy, consciousness, formlessness…   And I can get there – through sex or meditation or breastfeeding or painting or writing… I can float on those waters, be held in the darkness of creation… but maintaining that connection within the mundane, during busyness… whilst my body does the daily eating, shitting, puking, housework, homework… this is the thing…

I struggle with intermittent connection, I need to return again and again during the day to this connection which is drowned out by the noise and business of the world. But when I can, when I touch her, my portal of power, the electricity of connection comes through me… it is a direct line to the divine – making me a conduit, through my body of the physical realm and the dark lightness of beyond. It connects the primal, primitive, mammalian, instinctive with the transcendent and divine.

My birth canal, my passage to power…the sounds emerge…   Holy This hole is holy. This is what I say as the rush of ecstasy comes over me – hoooooooly…… H the ecstatic breath, O the opening portal, light at the end of the tunnel, ly a soft flowing

Holy mama is now a common phrase in my vocabulary – it expresses the wow of orgasmic understanding, the oooo of opening. The mama of creation, whose womb is a cave I stood in in France this summer, and felt for the first time, the earth as mother. Not just metaphorically, but TRUTH.   And as I stand at the cave entrance – in my own womb cave, looking out, I notice my mother. Standing there.

A couple of months back I told my husband clearly that I was reclaiming my sexuality from my parents…I was creating my own OKs, rather than the inherited not-OKs which have dictated so much of my expression in every sphere previously.   What gave me pleasure was OK… at last… It was allowed…Although they never really knew they had had a say… as a child I just assimilated it… they gave me so little to kick against. They were my Gatekeepers and I took on their rules as mine, unquestioned. Part of my own OKs was that yonis are beautiful and sexy… mine… and others… I was allowed to feel this and enjoy this… It was between me and myself. Openess without shame.

So it was a surprise to see my mother standing there. During each birth I had called out to her. A womb call. Calling back in the guardian of my space. She who gifted me life, who protected me as I grew and learned. But the truth was that I didn’t want her, the human her, there in the room. But her, that energy of the guardian mother, the mother we all long for, that the human mother can never truly fulfil. However much she longs to.   I see the Motherline going back… our mothers as gatekeepers, womb keepers and guardians to the erotic, the creative, to the ancient feminine flow. Their job was to keep it sacred, to guard it… to guard us from predators. To give us over whole to ourselves. Our holes whole and holy. But they had little preparation for their role. The knowing had not been passed down to them. So they scrabbled in the dirt with their finger nails to do the best they could with the nothing they had been given.

For most cultures this holiness has been interpreted as virginal, meaning without sex… before marriage. And this is a misunderstanding, I think. And so we have been kept virginal our sexuality shamed or downplayed, until guardianship was passed on to our husband-keepers, and we would become mothers ourselves. We are not encouraged to open… fully… as women unto ourselves… because they and their foremothers going back for generations had not either.

Our mothers are our guides and permission givers…but often they… and we… misunderstand their role. Instead they keep us from It…through fear… of judgement, of harm, of what if… taking our hands from our genitals, shaming us for small pleasures, scaring us from boys, stumbling over our first blood… They are… we are… the womb keepers – but rather than keeping it sacred in our innocence – until they can hand over the keys of entry to our place of power, or leaving us space to discover it ourselves… we are left alone and uninitiated.

Our mothers in their desire to keep us safe, often not knowing, or not trusting their own eroticism, spirit and creativity, put themselves between us and it, often from their own fears. This has been passed down our lineage, each mother standing gate keeper in her daughter’s womb their whole lives. And we are all unconscious of it… until we go looking…

A woman’s soul contract as a mother or a mentor, is to initiate us into this sacred space – to guard it whilst we are children, and initiate us into each level as we grow in awareness… to give permission and markers along the sacred way… hence my need to write … for my daughters and all of us who are daughters – the deep need to initiate as I and my mothers before me have not been, to re-establish the Motherline- the line into women, into their bodies, spirit, creativity, erotic selves – to touch the divine in their own lives, and express it in the world through their own voices….

This is my calling. This is my work: a modern day sheelanagig. Holding myself open… look, look inside…