In Greek mythology, the earliest story I can remember is of the Earth-Mother, Gaia, and the Sky-Father, Ouranos, and how they came together to bring forth life from the world. It is a beautiful story, true in its own way: Gaia bears the seeds of all the world’s plants in her womb, and Ouranos fertilizes the soil, and together they create life
In the mythology of my world there is another life-giving pair, only here it is the life of the spirit or the mind. They are Oikeia, the Home-Mother, and Kosmos, the World-Father. Here biological reproduction is not their aim, but rather the growth and development of the soul or spirit, the self, the psyche. All children, of course, begin in the womb of Oikeia, wholly dependent on her for teaching and instruction. But as they grow, children must come gradually under the instruction of the father, who isn’t nearly as warm and soft as mother. Oikeia nourishes with milk and honey; Kosmos with bread and water. She gives out of wealth; he provides out of poverty.
Every myth has its hero; the hero of this myth is me. What I am discovering is that Oikeia is indeed a jealous soul. Her breasts have long been dry of milk, yet she, needing to be needed, offers herself anyway, almost rudely. She would give a man back his childish things, just when he was beginning to cast them aside. Milk and honey will no longer nourish; it is bread and water alone which can teach the mind endurance and patience and strength.
Perhaps I am being too harsh. Yet I cannot help but feel this pressure from Mother when I long for Father. I feed off the world now. Being at home for three weeks is like trying, like Nicodemus, to re-enter the womb. It’s smothering and suffocating and I just don’t fit anymore.
How am I to engage this home, this familiy of mine? The motherhood of Oikeia (and indeed, I must admit, of my own mother as well), once nourishing and uplifting and strengthening, is now oppressive and annoying and draining.