Around the Motherhouse Blog

Don't Eat Your Offspring

~The Adventures of Kalimama~

My neighbor who lives about 6 doors down has a bumper sticker that reads: "Become Addicted to Wolves: Smoke a Pack a Day" - with a picture of a gun shooting a wolf. Now, this guy is actually rather likeable (although admittedly our relationship is limited to waving as he drives by our house) I am quite convinced that folks with this kind of mentality were dropped on their heads as babies. Probably several times.

I am serious. I think there is something wrong with the wiring in their brain's limbic system. These poor souls have a central nervous system that leans more towards the reptilian structure of instinct and self-preservation than the mammalian brain of compassion, empathy, relationality, and higher level thinking.

Speaking of son's passion this week is komodo dragons. We've been researching them and learning about reptiles. For instance, we learned that baby komodo dragon's hatch from eggs that are laid in a ditch in the earth. As soon as they hatch the make a run for the trees where they will spend the first three years of their lives. Why? Because other komodo dragons, including their own parents, will eat them if they stay on the ground. They only come out of the trees after they are large enough to defend themselves from other komodo dragons.

When I shared this information with my son he was visibly distraught and asked the obvious human/non-reptilian question: "Why would a mommy eat its baby?!" Since his limbic system is functioning properly, he could not conceive of a mother eating its own offspring. For it is our limbic system in our brain that allows us to feel a connection with other beings, to feel a sense of empathy and caring for people and all life forms, and is the root of the characteristics that make us most human: kindness, compassion, caring, joy, humor, etc.

Unfortunately, reptiles missed out on this evolutionary development and remain stuck with a simpler brain structure that excludes a limbic system. Thus they do not form attachments with their caregivers, for example, or even for their own off spring. For the most part, they do not form any relationships with any other beings. They don't play (when is the last time you saw a lizard chasing its tail?) nor do they probably grieve. This is not to say that reptiles are not cool. Reptiles are wonderful creatures! They just have less complex brains and probably don't feel emotions in the way mammals do.

What's this have to do with spiritual parenting, you ask? Well, I am not exactly sure. I think, somewhere in this monologue, is a conundrum. I want to raise my children to have strong relationships and connection with the world around them. As a goddess woman I believe that all living creatures are imbued with Spirit and are sacred - be it rock, tree, reptile or river. I believe that most goddess women have strong, large limbic systems. Our connection to and relationship with the world around us is the source of our strength and the essence of our spiritual inspiration.

Yet, in some ways, the limbic gift of connectivity is a curse too. When a tree is cut in our community, we grieve. In November, when deer hunting season is at its peak, many of us can barely leave the house for the cavernous sorrow we feel for the dead deer strung on top of trucks like bloody trophies. We feel so deeply connected to our world sometimes it is difficult to move through it.

So the question is, how do I raise my children to feel the same amazing connectivity to the world around us while at the same time protect them from the pain that is associated with such an open heart? For better or worse, cruelty is part of the world we live in.

How do I prepare them to live in a world where there are "reptiles" - people who do not have the capacity, literally, to feel a connection with other living things? Whether it is the "mean girls" at school, the cutting of all the old trees in town, or the senseless bumper stickers of the rednecks down the street, the fact of the matter is I have to teach my children to both open their heart and guard it as well.

By Jenny June ~ Goddess mother of three, 10 year old Josie, 5 year old Zeke, and 4 year old Oliver~ seeking the joy and spiritual lessons of being a mindful mama.