Visions of the Great Mother by Mary Gelfand

During late summer a few years ago I had a vision.  I know it was summer because it was hurricane season and there were several active storms in the Atlantic & Caribbean.  Since I grew up in Florida and lived in New Orleans for many years, I have a lot of experience with hurricanes.

In this vision, I found myself seated at the side of the Great Mother Goddess looking down thru a portal at planet Earth.  The Goddess looked at me and then turned back to the portal.  She put a finger out and touched a place on the planet with a spark of light.  Then She turned to me and said, “The energy must be discharged!”  She repeated this multiple times and ultimately put her finger on planet Earth five times, each time touching a spot where a hurricane was active. 

The energy must be discharged! 

That phrase lingers in my memory and has been helpful in understanding some of what has been going on in the world today.  Energy discharge or release is very common—it happens in the natural world all the time.  That’s what lightning and thunderstorms are all about.  When lightning strikes the earth, it discharges some of the energy that has built up inside the thunderstorm and must be released in some way.

Waves and waterfalls and wind are forms of energy release.  Animals running and leaping and flying for no reason other than sheer pleasure are a form of energy release.  So are earthquakes, volcanos and hurricanes. 

The energy must be discharged!

Energy is built up and released by human beings as well and I perceive two different kinds of energy that humans discharge—physical and emotional.  Releasing pent up physical energy is fairly easy—just use your body.  Before so many of us lived in urban settings, daily life was much more physically demanding and released some of the energy that must be discharged.  In an urban setting, there are far fewer outlets and restless young people, bursting with physical energy, struggle to find acceptable ways of discharging it.  Playing non-competitive sports is a good way to release energy.  So are dancing, hiking, running, singing, performing, cooking, sex, and so on.  There are many ways of releasing physical energy that are helpful and wholesome.

The energy must be discharged!

This brings us to emotional energy which is also generated and must be released.  All emotions generate energy—some more than others.  Emotional energy runs the spectrum from energy that is life-affirming, such as love, joy, contentment, kindness, happiness, and compassion to energy that is life-destroying, such as anxiety, fear, jealousy, greed, resentment, and hatred.  Anger can be either life-destroying or life-affirming, depending on how it is used.  Emotional energy of all kinds can become so intense that it must be discharged.  Life-affirming experiences, such as weddings, festivals, concerts, relationships with family and friends all generate and discharge emotional energy. 

Life-destroying energy is also generated and has to be discharged.  That usually happens thru violence—physical or emotional—against oneself or other living things—such as rape, shootings, suicide, psychological and sexual abuse.  Alcoholism and other forms of addictive behaviors are examples of ways in which life-destroying energy is discharged into the world. 

And some things play in both these worlds.  Families and relationships can generate both life-affirming and life-destroying energies.  And weeping can release both kinds of energy.   

As a culture, we excel at generating the life-destroying energy that is an obvious outcome of our patriarchal system.  But we are very poor at creating non-violent outlets for the discharge of this energy, which the Great Mother tells us must be discharged.  Thus we live in a world filled with mass shootings, domestic violence, and rampant fear of the ‘other.’

I wish I could tell you that I know how to change this.  How to increase the amount of life-affirming energy and decrease the amount of life-destroying energy.  I have sat and wept with the Mother Goddess at her portal, witnessing the violent discharge of the energy of hatred and fear, an energy that is not honored in any spiritual tradition.  In the last few years I have struggled to keep generating the life-affirming energy of love, acceptance, and compassion.  My own frustration and pain and righteous anger have tempted me to the side of hatred and violence.  I have felt the physical impact in my body of having so much energy—so much anger—built up that I physically need to release it.  My solution has been to throw feminist bean bags at a door where I’ve placed various symbols of patriarchy.  Believe it or not, this helps.

 The energy must be discharged. 

As I sit with this question of how to increase the amount of life-affirming energy in the world, I have found guidance in the words of the many mystics.  Eighth century Sufi mystic Rabia writes, “I was born when all I once feared—I could love.”  St. Francis of Assisi writes, “It was easy to love God in all that was beautiful.  The lessons of deeper knowledge, though, instructed me to embrace God in all things.”  From them I learn that I must find a way to embrace the Divine in everyone—to remember that we are all flawed humans with the same basic needs—more alike than different—children of the same Great Mother, who weeps for us all.    

Twelfth century mystic Hildegard of Bingen believes that humans are infinitely creative creatures and that we are called upon by the Divine to live out our awakening—our power—our creativity.   We are called to help the Divine co-create the world—a calling I want to answer! 

The energy must be discharged and I get to choose how to discharge the energy that runs thru my body.  I choose to discharge it by working with the Divine to co-create a life-affirming world, filled with creativity, love, and wholeness.  Hard as it is sometimes, I resolve to continue generating and releasing into the world the life-affirming energies of love, kindness, beauty, and compassion.  I choose to discharge my energy in ways that affirm life, creativity, and wholeness. 

What do you choose?

Expansion, bronze with electricity, by Paige Bradley Photograph by Victor Lefar, 2005


Mary Gelfand is an ordained Interfaith Minister and a Wiccan High Priestess.  As a Unitarian Universalist, she has served in both local and national leadership roles, including five years as national board president of the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS).  She is an experienced teacher of Cakes for the Queen of Heaven—adult education program focused on feminist thealogy and the Great Goddess.  A practicing Pagan, her spiritual life is rooted in the cycles and seasons of the natural world which are so abundantly visible in New England.  She reads, teaches, and preaches about feminist theology, the Great Goddess, mysticism, and the mysteries of Tarot.  As a fiber artist, she enjoys weaving tapestry and knitting gifts for strangers and friends.

Categories: General, Goddess Spirituality, Goddess Spirituality, Women Mystics

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20 replies

  1. Absolutely loved this post! Thank you! I fear my energy release has been in the form of health issues, which was not addressed in this article.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Jan. I agree that health issues could be an example of how the body is discharging energy. I can rarely say all I want to when writing for FAR because of the word limit. Not a complaint, just an observation.

      Hope your health improves!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for this post. You have given me much food for thought. Where did you get the feminist bean bags? I would love to get some to throw against a door!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I made the Feminist Bean Bags. Anyone with a sewing machine can make them. I used part of an old tie-dyed dress I had and a bag of dried white beans. I call them Feminist because the idea came when I was emotionally processing yet another layer of understanding just how fully and intentionally the patriarchy has worked to minimize or eliminate women’s power. I had to do something or else lash out at my very loving and supportive spouse.

    Happy thinking!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I also loved this post, especially your refrain, “The energy must be discharged!”When I find myself getting outraged and angry, I try to choose laughter.

    I am called to remember the time, long ago, when I was studying at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, doing an exercise that stimulated us to experience the physical similarities between laughter and crying. Starting with a whimper or giggle (or vice-versa), then moving up the scale to express the full range of emotion at the peak (weeping hard or laughing uproariously), “flipping” to the other emotion, then quieting down to a giggle or whimper. All of this was purely physical; no connection was made to any specific event that might cause the emotion.

    I loved discovering the physical creation of what we humans often regard as event-produced. I became clearer about the choices we can make in expressing our selves. I also applaud you choosing “to discharge [your] energy in ways that affirm life, creativity, and wholeness.” I also love the bronze by Paige Bradley.

    Thank you:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Sharon. When my first husband died suddenly, many of our old friends gathered at my house, most of us in shock. My primary memory of those couple of days is of everyone telling stories about him that made us laugh. ‘Do you remember when …?’ I knew at the time that our grief was manifesting in laughter and it seemed a fine outlet for our emotional energy.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for this wise and insightful essay! Those of us in places experiencing extreme drought know the power of the sky’s releasing energy now that we are so bereft of the thunder and lightning that brings rain. The barrenness of the land right now speaks to what happens to our bodies and souls when we don’t release the energy inside us that the planet needs. May the energy be discharged!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Positively BRILLIANT essay….the truths/ the struggles you share are my own….Like you I have no answers… only more questions. I am fortunate that I love the woods – any time I am upset I take to the forest and there I am released of both negative emotional and physical energy – we have become such a destructive culture – every morning I post publicly a little morning meditation which usually consists of my relationships with wild or tame animals trees flowers – you name it. Thoughts and pictures. My intention is to put that positive life energy out there.This also helps me to begin the day in a state of gratitude for what is… however, I do not choose denial and that means that I protect myself from news but continue to tell stories, write poems etc about both sides of what is. I am going to put this essay on my blog – the vision you had – well, the goddess is always speaking day and night – Bless you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Sara. Sounds like we are on the same page. And thank you for sharing my essay. I am reminded of the story of a man walking on a beach that is covered with starfish stranded above the high tide mark. He comes across a boy picking up the starfish and throwing them into the deep water and asks the boy why he is doing this. ‘It can’t possibly matter,’ the man says. ‘You can’t save all of them.’ The boy calmly picks up another starfish and throws it into the deeper water. ‘It matters to that one,’ he says. I believe that every drop of love and compassion put into the world matters to someone, and I’m determined to save as many starfish as I can.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I love your starfish story – like you I will be throwing every starfish back into the waters – like you I will never give up.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I love the story too, Sara, and I think I first encountered it in Loren Eisley’s book “Star Thrower”. Do you know if that’s where it’s from, Mary?

          Liked by 2 people

          • Sadly I don’t. My parents used to subscribe to Reader’s Digest and its the kind of thing I may have read there. I’m pretty sure it’s something I encountered as a young person. My adult self is generally good about noting where inspirational stories come from. However, a brief Google search produced multiple responses and I think you’re right that it comes from Loren Eisley’s book. I shall make a note of that. You can also buy about a dozen different versions of this story as posters, none of which attribute the author.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Thank you!

            Liked by 1 person

  7. Wonderful post. Thank you and sharing on the divine feminine app.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is one of the wisest posts I have ever read in a decade on FAR. What a blessing that you sat with our Great Mother and listened to what She was teaching. We all need to metaphorically sit with Her and listen to the lesson that energy must be discharged….but human energy must be discharged in kind, helpful ways, by being good to people who don’t look like us, by teaching our children to be kind and ethical, by stopping racists and other followers of the Orange T. Rex. Yes, positive and positively, the energy must be discharged. Let’s all get to work!

    Bright blessings to you and your good work.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. thank you for a very powerful article. I am just recovering from a small stroke and the idea of a discharge of energy is so relevant to me. The only explanation in an otherwise no idea how this happened to you world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. Susan. I’m glad this provided some little bit of comfort to you. Medical issues can spin one’s entire world on a dime. One minute you’re on the top of the wheel and the next you’re on the bottom, looking at the stars from a mud puddle and wondering how in the hell you got here. I am grateful to live in a time and place (New England) where good medical care is available, though not cheap. I wish you a complete recovery from your small stroke and improved health moving forward. Blessings.

      Liked by 1 person

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