~excerpted from the Introduction of I Am Her Daughter, copyright Licia Berry 2014, all rights reserved

I Am Her Daughter is an experiential guide to mend the relationship between us and our selves, through the miracle of self love.

The cherished daughter.

Is this a fantasy?  How often do we hear of a cherished daughter?  It seems so rare in a world that values sons, that auctions off daughters to be wed with the highest dowry, or even sees baby girls as bad fortune and kills them.

Yet, there are some who know that a daughter is to be cherished; we hear about the occasional parents that raised their daughter to believe in herself, to know Mother and Daughter 1she was loved, to feel her place and value in the world.

And we know this in our bodies, in our hearts and souls.  I believe that we know, at some level, that each of us are precious and should be cherished.  We know this as children, and so it comes as a shock when some of us are not cherished.  We feel the affront to our inner awareness and slowly learn that we are not so precious after all.

According to Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, two Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters for the New York Times, and the authors of Half the Sky, violence against women is causing gender imbalances in many developing countries.  The global sex ratio is now thought to be 107 males to every 93 females, the largest gap seen since records have been kept, according to women’s advocate and activist Gloria Steinem in her speech at the Wisdom Sharing Retreat at Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu NM in 2014.

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The World Health Organization writes in the report “Understanding and addressing violence against women” that,  “Violence against women comprises a wide range of acts – from verbal harassment and other forms of emotional abuse, to daily physical or sexual abuse. At the far end of the spectrum is femicide: the murder of a woman or girl.”

The pain of being rejected by our mother is one of those unparalleled anguishes that can barely be described.  It threatens to tear the very fabric of one’s being apart.  At a basic, cellular level, we wonder, “That which made me now rejects me….what is wrong with me?”  We have the potential to carry a deep, unquenchable need to “fix” ourselves because surely there must be something very, very bad about us.  Motherless children carry the un-quantifiable pain, the pain of separation from our maker, our earthly origination point.    

The illness that derives from this pain creates more of it. 

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In an age of patriarchy (5000+ years), women have been given a message that the feminine is unimportant, dismiss-able, dirty, evil, expendableViolence and oppression of women is a core wound that underscores all of the other problems in the world, from poverty to war to destruction of the environment, hostility, toward those who are different, etc.  Women and girls don’t know their value, don’t know the preciousness and sacredness of our bodies and our psyches, don’t know their resilience, don’t know that being a woman is a special gift.  How on earth would a woman know how to be a good mother unless she was herself mothered by a woman who valued herself as a woman?    

As poet Adrienne Rich said, “The woman I needed to call my mother was silenced before I was born.” Motherless women are an epidemic, and it is a sociological issue as well as a personal psychological and spiritual issue.  The world needs mothers that value themselves as women to turn this grand ship around before humanity destroys itself.  But, as with all change, we must begin with ourselves.

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I have studied photos of mothers and daughters over the years with interest.  I have studied their faces, scanning them for the same emotional features I see on pictures of myself as a little girl, or of my biological mother. There are no photographs of her and me together in this kind of portrait.  I think that is because I don’t remember ever being with her in this kind of closeness.

What is the magic ingredient that cements the bond between the two females in the pictures?  I notice a nakedness, an honesty and an attentiveness in the faces of the mothers.  The mother seems caring, warm, available, connected  to her daughter.  And the daughter looks safe, calm, secure in that love, as if she is held by an invisible force field that surrounds her, and she knows it.   Is this what a cherished daughter looks like

What does that feel like?

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I really wanted to know.  In my efforts to understand and to feel  that kind of mothering in my life, I have combed the world for examples of ideal mothering.  There are many out there, plenty of genuinely caring examples of healthy relationships between mothers and daughters.

My longing for a mother drove me to look far and wide, first to find a woman in a physical form that would suitably fill that role.  Running into disappointment and failure as I relied on women to mother me that were themselves unmothered, I began to search on a different playing field.  Because I’d found no mother on earth that could mother me the way I wanted and needed to be mothered, my yearning for a mother took me on a spiritual journey that sent me straight into the arms of the best possible mother I could wish for.

This book is about coming into relationship with what I call Great Mother, the aspect of the Divine Feminine that specifically feels like my ideal mother, something I experience as within myself as well as a primary component of the larger universe.  She brings unconditional acceptance, deep compassion, profound understanding.  This book is about my direct experiences, mystical happenings, miraculous healings, case studies of women in my practice who gave me permission to share their own healing with you, and practical ways to find Her for yourself.  We all deserve to be mothered with this kind of love.

And this is the gift that came from the box full of darkness.  A painful path that led to the most precious realization of all….that I am (and indeed, all of us are) loved, and mothered.

To be continued….

~excerpted from the Introduction of I Am Her Daughter, copyright Licia Berry 2014, all rights reserved

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delivery August 2015

See Excerpt 1 Finding Our Mothers