Reviewed by Entwife
The 13 Original Clan Mothers
by Jamie Sams
published 1994 by Harper San Francisco
Paperback 336 pages
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This unique book is unlike anything else that I have read. This collection of Native American wisdom is delivered in a oral-tradition style which I found quite appropriate. Although directed at a feminine audience, the advice proffered by each of these Clan Mother's is also the very best I've ever read for anyone, male or female, in how best to approach Life and view Self. Nor does it have even a drop of "self-help" feel in the writing.
Each Mother has her own bailiwick which is first discussed in Her chapter and then accompanied by a tale about how she came to be the Mother of ...the planetary family, friendship, etc. The first thirty or so pages are devoted to revealing the author's personal journey of discovery as well as offering a glimpse into her culture. All very informative and engaging reading, but not necessarily vital to the rest of the work. It is in reading of the Clan Mothers themselves, their lessons, teachers, perspectives, aspirations and failings that the true merits of this work are most clearly absorbed. A quick overview is offered of each Mother is offered at the beginning of this work, and while it is intellectually easy to understand... the truth and lessons revealed in each Mother's experiences are not truly understood by the reader until we experience them ourselves through their stories. While I am paraphrasing, this look into each clan mother that I offer up as a first look, it is nearly an exact quote from the "shorthand" version of each Clan Mother's description from the book...
Talks With Relations is the first teacher in the cycle. She is the Mother of Nature and the Planetary Family. She teaches us how to understand the unspoken Languages of Nature, our kinship with all life forms, how to enter the Sacred Spaces of others with respect, how to honor cycles, rhythms, and changes of season and weather, and how to meld with the life force and rhythms in all dimensions to learn the Truth of each thing in our World.
Wisdom Keeper is the Protect-ress of Sacred Traditions, the Mother of Friendship, Planetary Unity and Mutual Understanding. She teaches us the art of self development and expansion, how to access Planetary Memory, personal recall, ancient wisdom and knowledge, to understand that every life form holds wisdom, how to be a friend and to restore friendship by honoring the viewpoints of all life forms.
Weighs The Truth is the Mother of Truth, Self-determination, and Responsibility. She is the Protect-ress of the Underdog, the Fair Judge of Divine Law and the Destroyer of Deception. She teaches us how to find the ability to respond and be self-determined, to feed the positive over the negative, how to use equality with justice by being accountable for our actions and words, how to use personal integrity, ethics and values to find healing solutions.
Looks Far Woman is the Mother of Visions, Dreams and Psychic Impressions, the Guardian of Dreamtime and the Keeper of Inner Potential. She teaches us how to understand our visions, dreams, feelings and impressions, how to enter Dreamtime, how to properly use our natural psychic abilities and gifts of prophecy for humanity, how to use spiritual boundaries, psychic self-defense, and how to respect those boundaries in others, and how to use our inner potential to become "healed healers".
Listening Woman is the Mother of Tiyoweh, the Stillness and Inner Knowing, the Keeper of Discernment and Guardian of Introspection. She teaches us how to enter the Stillness and hear our heart's small still voice, how to find and understand Inner Knowing that we carry within ourselves, how to listen to the viewpoints and opinions of others as well as the voices of our Ancestors, and how to understand body language and unspoken thoughts by hearing with our hearts.
Storyteller is the Guardian of Medicine Stories, Keeper of Heyokah Medicine and Humor, the Teacher who Teaches without Pointing a Finger. She teaches us how to teach others through the telling of stories that contain lessons, how to balance the sacredness with irreverence by using humor creatively, how to speak from our experience without judging others or being self-righteous, how to be a Student in life as well as a Teacher and how to preserve wisdom gained for future generations.
Loves All Things is the Mother of Unconditional Love and All Acts of Pleasure, The Keeper of Sexual Wisdom and Self-respect, the Guardian of the Needs of the Family. She teaches us how to use respect, trust and intimacy in all relationships, how to love all aspects of our lives, lessons, sexuality and physical beings, how to be a loving woman, nurturing mother, sensual lover and trusted friend, and most importantly how to forgive ourselves and others by developing acceptance and shunning critical-ness.
She Who Heals is the Mother of Intuition/All Rites of Passage/Cycles of Birth, Death and Rebirth, the Keeper of the Healing Arts, the Singer of the Death Song and Keeper of Life and Death Mysteries.She teaches us how to serve others with a happy heart using our healing abilities, how to understand and honor the life cycles of birth, death and rebirth, how to believe in the miracles of life through our connections to our Spiritual Essences, how to understand the Plant Kingdom and the healing uses of all parts of plants.
Setting Sun Woman is the Mother of the Proper Use of Will/Will to Live/Survive/Will Power, the Keeper of Tomorrow's Dreams and Goals, the Guardian of the Needs of the Next Seven Generations, Guardian of Preservation, and the Keeper of Mother Earth's Resources. She teaches us how to preserve and use our resources without wasting anything, how to prepare for tomorrow by planning today, how to make and meet personal goals, how to show concern, dependability and compassion through the ways we live, how to properly use our wills by using our intents to provide for future generations.
Weaves The Web is the Mother of Creativity, Manifester of Dreams, Guardian of Life Force and the Keeper of Survival Instincts. She teaches us how to use our desire to create and bring our dreams into tangible forms. How to tap life force, how to use energy to build, change or manifest our needs, how to manifest our visions and give them life through our actions and artistic talents, how to create new from old and how to destroy the limitations of creativity.
Walks Tall Woman is the Mother of Beauty and Grace, the Keeper of Innovation and Persistence, the Guardian of Leadership and all forms of Inner Strength. She teaches us how to be our personal best and still be vulnerably human, how to keep our bodies and minds flexible and in good health, how to seek and find new paths through growing, learning and leading through example, how to develop inner strength and how both attract and release.
Gives Praise is the Mother of All Acts of Thanksgiving and Encouragement, Keeper of Abundance, Guardian of Ceremony and Ritual, and the Wisdom Keeper of the Art of Giving and Receiving. She teaches us how to return thanks for the abundance we need before it arrives, how to make space to receive in our lives, how to celebrate ever victory in life with joy (our own and those of others), how to use right attitudes to create change in Self and how to create abundance through praise, giving, and receiving.
Becomes Her Vision is the Mother of the Alchemical Changes and Rites of Passage into Wholeness, Keeper of Emergence of Spirit into Physical Form, Guardian of Transformation, Transmutation, and Personal History. She teaches us how to become our visions and own our wholeness, how to release the old Self and step into the realized dream, how to honor the process that brought us through our transformation, how to mark a Rite of Passage into Wholeness and Celebrate the vision we have become.
From these quick descriptions, it is fairly clear that each Clan Mother embodies a lesson or attitude we absorb to become our best Vision of Self. Once, these Traditions allowed for a sisterly support group that our society is tragically lacking today. There is such a wealth of wisdom here that it really does require both the stark look at each Mother's attributes, as well as the accompanying tale to truly understand the lessons we are being given by these archetypes. For example, we can all understand striving for the qualities attributed to Walks Tall Woman by the description already given. However, only through reading her story do we truly come to understand her wisdom. Walks Tall Woman was the exemplary, the shining example for every woman...yet we learn her greatest failing was in not allowing for the failings of her own humanity.
Her example of Constant Perfection was making other women feel hopeless and depressed. They felt that they could not live up to such virtue without any time for Self, or more importantly Renewal of Self. It is Walks Tall Woman who began the Tradition of retreat during ones menstrual cycle for this vital time of introspection and renewal that is essential for one to continually strive for personal perfection without going completely bonkers. In her eagerness to spread her lessons through example, she forgot to allow her self time for renewal and was therefore setting a dangerous example. Walks Tall Woman had to learn how to release this bad habit and find a way to turn it into a strength for everyone. She succeeds admirably and the reader is left marveling at why these very important aspects of Self and Culture are not promoted within society today.
Each Clan Mother's tale reveals an amazing amount of wisdom and another facet of Truth. Sometimes we must learn to be Grateful for the Truth, which is not always a wholly pleasant thing. At other moments in our lives we need to learn how to laugh at ourselves and Truth; to find the humor at the heart of the most serious issues we face. There is a time for everything and perhaps the best time to be learning about our selves and world is Now. Each chapter contains a more in-depth look at the Clan Mother for that section, a poem about her, and then a tale given in the best oral-tradition manner.
I borrowed this book from the library, but am so impressed with the food for thought found here that I know I simply Must purchase a copy for myself. While easy to read and absorb, there is simply too much here for me to commit to memory for later use. I am awed and truly grateful that these sacred Traditions have survived so much death, hardship and ridicule, and doubly grateful that through Native author Jamie Sams they have been shared so generously with those of us born outside these Traditions.
These are not preachy, condescending morality tales, nor are they squishy self-help jargons being spoon-fed to the masses. These are essential markers upon the Road of Life that each of us, male or female, can benefit from learning. I was often touched by a phrasing or concept so deeply that I would stop reading and gaze off into the past, searching my memory for someone who may have said exactly those words to me at some point in my life so familiar did they seem. One really must read for one's self this work to truly absorb all that it has to offer and no mere review of the written work could truly encompass the wealth of life lessons given here.
I could not give enough praise to this work, its author, or the Teachers who passed these Wisdoms on to her willing heart. I expect I shall be learning from this marvelous work for years to come. With great Love, I share this glimpse of what I have learned with you and hope with all my being that the creative fire found here shall burn brightly through the hearts of (Mitake Oyasin) All My Relations.