By Erick Kline
I’m going to start off: Beyonce doesn’t do it for me. She’s a lovely, talented young woman who’s done some catchy songs, but that’s where my interest ends. However, what she evoked in her visually stunning 2017 Grammy Awards performance made me appreciate her a little more. She literally called down the spirits and opened eyes to our rich cultural mythology, a celebration of African spirituality.
We are not only descended from kings and queens, but also gods and goddesses: specifically, the greatest of all goddesses: the Mother.
The great Mother is omnipresent throughout world mythology. Oftentimes, she emerges fully realized into existence as if stepping onto a fashion catwalk. She is the personification of nature, motherhood, fertility, creation, destruction; the embodiment of the Earth’s bounty; the life giver and the nurturer.
The Mother dates as far back as ancient Egypt when she was known as Mut: her very name translated as mother, a primal deity associated with the waters from which everything was born.
To the Yorùbá of southwestern Nigeria and Benin she is the Orisha (deity) Yemaya, Goddess of the Living Ocean, considered the mother of all. She is the source of all the waters and, as all life is thought to have begun in the sea, all life is held to have begun with her. She is motherly and strongly protective, and cares deeply for all Her children, comforting them and cleansing them of sorrow. She is said to be able to cure infertility in women, and cowrie shells represent Her wealth. She does not easily lose Her temper, but when angered She can be quite destructive and violent, as the sea in a storm.
The Yorùbá also have the Orisha Oshun of the sweet or fresh waters, as opposed to the salt waters of Yemaya. She is widely loved, as She is known for healing the sick and bringing fertility and prosperity, and She especially watches over the poor and brings them what they need.
The Akan people of West Africa regard Asase Yaa as Mother Earth, the earth goddess of fertility and the upholder of truth. She is credited as the nurturer of the earth and provides sustenance for all.
There is also the triple moon goddess N’Game, Creatress and Queen, a goddess of divine authority and feminine empowerment, revered in West Africa, particularly by the Akan of Ghana. According to their myth, she animated human beings by shooting arrows into their hearts with her bow. She carries a crescent shaped bow and her arrows gives humans and animals their souls at birth.
All of this should remind us just how special the Mother is. She is our muse, our comforter, our healer, our protector. She is the moon who watches over us when we sleep and the dawn who greets us when we wake.
It is for this, and many more reasons, why we worship, honor and revere her on Mother’s Day. She is the goddess who brought us into being and nurtured us. Our Mothers deserve a resounding thank you for giving us the gift of life. Be sure to tell yours.