The Spirituality of the Mother Wound

We all recognize the shrinkage effect of relationships. Where, individually, we are in full power, in togetherness we can find ourselves feeling small, helpless and powerless. It’s way to easy to blame the “other” for this. But what is really unfolding at the velvety frontier of intimacy on the edge of unity, is what is today being named as the Mother Wound.

What is the Mother Wound? Is it a female thing? How does it connect to our actual mothers? How do we work with it, and can it be healed?

By Georgi Y. Johnson


The Mother Wound. Just the term can make us cringe. On the one hand, our mothers are sacred, beyond criticism. They take away our pain and at the core of our life-time psychology, we feel and believe that our survival depends on the mother. How very dark then, the expression: “Mother Wound”.

On the other hand, we are very good at avoiding tunnels of self-perpetuating trauma. To open the mother issue, we have learned, is to spiral into an endless pit of despair, and we love our mothers. We are unconditionally helpless in that love. We love our mothers so much that we would often rather not touch them.

At the psycho-sentient frontiers of inner growth, when moving into nondual dimensions such as pure consciousness, awareness, love, peace and freedom, the Mother Wound bites back. It awaits us at a layer of primal, individual, collective healing which can’t be repressed.

It is here in the dance of duality between loneliness and intimacy. It is here at the convergence of individual and unity. It sings its melodies at the fundamental perceptive split between the one that sees, and the one that is seen.

Feelings of abandonment, betrayal, loneliness, despair, rejection, jealousy, unworthiness, guilt and shame all flower from this area of energetic contraction. Each petal of each of these flowers, when followed sentiently home and released, is a fundamental liberation from the illusion of separation.

The split from the mother – and the pre-conscious, sentient trauma of birth – gives the feeling quality or inner atmosphere that surrounds our fundamental belief in the reality of separation.

Thought patterns based on private-public, inner-outer, you V me, heaven V hell, human V nature are born out of this sentient wound. We continue to unconsciously believe in ultimate separation precisely because we dread the wilderness of the Mother Wound. We fear and resist those feelings to such an extent, that we would rather remain in apparent isolation than endure them. Yet those feeling existentially block our path back to unity and wholeness – whether physical, psychological, sentient or spiritual. And those contacted, unconscious feelings literally make us sick.

The energies of the mother wound are found in the whiplash after the high of unity. They are found in the sense of horror when unity is lost. The week after the awesome spiritual workshop has ended and the teacher is far away; the days after a beautiful, unified sexual experience; hours after the game-changing transcendental experience in meditation. They are found when our consciousness expands, also through the layers of experiential memory and deep into the cellular memory of the body. They surface as existential worthlessness, egoic lack and an inner atmosphere of a-priori condemnation.

Why suffer it?

To truly bring heaven to earth – to allow freedom in form and freedom of form – we need at least a friendly awareness of and through those subtle but confusingly familiar energetic blocks called the mother wound.

To truly allow health and naturalness through the physical body, the mother wound is also critical. It will not disappear through repression, avoidance or neglect. It operates as a nervous and sentient crisis center at the very borders between spiritual, emotional and physical disease.

Psychosomatic contraction – such as a persistent and long-term tightening around the collar bone and throat, or the refusal to allow the pelvic area into consciousness – will become chronic physical disease at some stage. The body, at the cellular level, will try and compensate the contraction. It will react to the disharmony. The nervous system and autoimmune system will also try and move the whole to harmony, through compensation.

In one way, an energetic block can be seen as a physical block. Where we refuse to feel energy trapped in our bodies, the brain registers a crisis or deficiency which needs correcting physically. It’s like we literally have a rope around our necks, or a chastity belt cutting into our thighs. Again, the brain does not differentiate between physical and emotional affliction. (See: Emotional and Physical Pain Activate Similar Brain Regions)

Yet unlike chronic disease – disease that surfaces in the physical – sentient wounds cannot be medicated away. While we might be able to radiate the cancer, or plaster the broken pelvis, sentient wounds do not heal through physical treatment. The widespread failure of psychiatric medication as anything other than a permanent solution and life sentence evidences this. The underlying feelings remain, for decades, until felt. Recently, science has even understood that they can become congenital. (See: Trauma through the generations).

The Mother Wound plays out not only between daughters and mothers. It is at work in the inner world between male and female aspects. It is reflected in the critical internal imbalance between active and receptive; action and surrender; creation and destruction. Transpersonally it is as active between women and women as it is also between men and men. It’s not about “us and them” but about the wilderness we all share at the threshold of embodied nonduality and unity.

At the same time, the mother wound is a social structure born in our collective (his)story and the spiritual-religious archetypes that we draw on as the frightening formlessness of the unconscious emerges at the ocean’s surface. These are the wound of patriarchy, rape, domination, and subjugation. They involve the scream of the marginalized from the monoculture. They are prevalent, in men and women. In short, creating the togetherness, safety and freedom to heal the mother wound is critical: individually and collectively. Responsibility for the Mother Wound could be one of the most relevant evolutionary effects of the whole nonduality movement in modern spirituality.

As human sons and daughters, how do we recognize the Mother Wound as she surfaces from the unconscious, within the domain of our own thoughts, feelings and actions? Still more, how, as parents, do we take responsibility in order to avoid passing this suffering on to our children?

Next: How the Mother Wound Makes Discord of Nonduality