Nourishing with Powerful Jaws

I’ve mentioned before that I like using my Animal-Wise Tarot deck to help me see what I can’t see but somehow know – at least I think I’ve put it that way before.

If not, there, now I’ve said it. It’s seeing in the way that poetry, a novel, a painting can help us see (and articulate) what we already know.

So today, one of the cards I drew was Crocodile – Queen of Ancients. The Ancients suit in this deck is what Wands are in more traditional decks.

So, the meaning of this card is primal strength and creation– mothering forces.


Mothering is primal strength and creation. Not your usual Hallmark moment when you think about mothering.

Crocodiles are apparently the ubermother of the reptile world. After their eggs hatch (takes about four months), they carry their young to the water in their mouths, protecting them from predators. Imagine being carried in the mouth of a crocodile.

In myth and symbology, crocodiles are associated with the Great Mother – and are associated with both destruction and birth devourers.

Hmmm . . . I can see how my mother was both.

A couple of friends of mine and I were talking recently: one feared that she had been a bad mother because she had had a hard time bonding with her child who was colicky; the other has a daughter with autism whose family blames her bad mothering skills for her daughter’s quirky behavior.

Clearly they are both good mothers. They love their children and see them for the individuals that their children are.

They are also both excellent writers.

My mothering has been in the form of being a step mom. I definitely feel I provided value added services to my step-children’s lives. But, I’ve often pondered why I didn’t have children of my “own.”

I think it has something to do with what I was taught mothering was — nurturing and self-sacrifice. Though I always wanted children, I think I feared being devoured by the role of mothering.

I have come to appreciate the difference between nurturing and nourishing. Nurturing, I think, can actually be an impediment to growth; I think it might be an attempt to save souls from pain and suffering. Nourishing, on the other hand, provides the nutrition we need to withstand the pain and suffering that is a natural part of being alive.

In Women Who Run with the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes describes Goddess-mothers: older women of the tribe who nourished young mothers, which taught them in turn how to nourish their children. If you get nourished, you learn what nourishment is and then, know how to nourish.

According to Pinkola Estes, this role got taken over by religion and devolved (my word) into the role of godmother – whose role was to make sure the child did not stray from a religion’s teachings.

Much different.

I don’t know exactly where I’m going with this (fortunately, as Tom says, blogging is improvising for writers), but it was a revelation today to see crocodiles as good mothers – carrying their babies down to the water in their powerful jaws.

I wish I had known earlier that I could have powerful jaws and still be a good mother.

I wonder if Dr. George Tiller would still be alive if his killer and those who egged him on understood that primal strength and creativity, not incubation, are the mothering forces.

One thought on “Nourishing with Powerful Jaws

  1. Pingback: Small Feet for a Girl My Size: a Mothers’ Day Post « Writing Shed

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