In the Ishtar Mysteries, ‘Quickening’ is the mystery point half way between Autumn Equinox (conception) and Winter Solstice (birthing). In the inner and outer cycles of creation/co-creation, this mystery point is about the experience of pregnancy – from both the point of view of the pregnant mother and that of the forming child.
The term ‘quickening’ is not much used any more in western culture, as pregnancy tests and ultrasound imagery have largely replaced the first flutter in the belly as confirmation of pregnancy. My understanding is that in traditional cultures, as in the esoteric strands of western culture, the moment when the first physical movements of the unborn baby are perceptible to the mother (generally between 12-14 weeks of pregnancy) is seen as hugely significant. According to some sources it signifies nothing less that the soul’s full commitment to this physical embodiment, this journey into expression in flesh. (When I learned this it changed how I felt about the phenomenon of early miscarriages). Some esoteric sources believe that at around this point in the pregnancy conscious/powerful souls have the potental to shape/adjust the genetic matrix that was formed at conception.
In my own visualisation of this mystery, the quickening represents the coming together of two spirals of energy. One (visualised as descending from the Great Above, from the star realms) comprises those specific soul resonances which prompted/resulted in this embodiment. The other, spiraling up from the Ament (the Great Below, place of the Ancestors under/within the Earth), represents the ancestral heritage. As these twin forces swirl together, we are reminded of the molecular structure of the DNA – the genetic code or matrix which guides and informs our physical expression as living beings of flesh and blood.
As I write this I am aware of at least three dimensions or ‘layers’ to this mystery.
On one level, we are invited to tune in to the process of our embodiment as a human being – both as the story of our personal beginnings in this life-time, and as an ongoing process that continues to unfold in the ever-present now. This is an opportunity to contact and bring new conscious awareness to our personal history of coming into incarnation as we take on physical shape within the womb of our birth-mother. As fetal beings we are literally bathed in our mother’s bio-chemical and emotional field, with very limited capacity to screen anything out. As we encounter this mystery, new awarenesses related to this in utero experience may surface – as we become more keenly aware of the impact of our mother’s emotional and physical journey through pregnancy on our forming being, and decisions that we made in response. I personally believe that the process of bringing these experiences and decisions fully into consciousness is innately transformational and can liberate more of our own energy and potential in our present lives.
On another level, we are invited to become conscious of ourselves as living in a pregnant universe – a universe which is constantly gestating and birthing new forms, new life.. from stars and galaxies, to single-celled organisms, from mountain ranges, to complex life-forms of all kinds. Some estimates suggest that around the world 250 new human babies are born every minute of every day… That’s a lot of pregnancies and a massive amount of creative energy!
In these times which many believe are all about a shift in global human consciousness, some speak of a ‘quickening’ in the collective consciousness of humanity. James Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis – that the Earth itself has consciousness – reminds us of more ancient ways of understanding and relating to the Earth as a living being. How does it change our sense of ourselves to remember/imagine that we are all living within the belly of a pregnant Mother Earth?
In my (admittedly sketchy) understanding of indigenous Australian spirituality, the Dreamtime is not so much an account of historical events as a process of creation that is unfolding in the ever present now. The Goddess mysteries invite us to tune in to a similar kind of consciousness. How does it feel to relate to Goddess as Cosmic Womb of Creation? And to understand ourselves as existing within the pregnancy of Her consciousness?
Finally, as we celebrate this mystery cycle as a devotional journey of service to the Divine Feminine, we have the opportunity to reflect upon the ways that we ourselves are currently pregnant – pregnant with spirit. The mystery of quickening brings to life or awakens the potential that has been seeded within us. A certain kind of faith in the unseen is required as we become a vessel for the sacred mystery which is taking place within our beings. The challenge is to allow this creative/transformational process which began at the conception mystery to continue to unfold in us. To be receptive and attentive without either wilfully trying to make anything happen, or attempting to shut the process down out of fear. It is a difficult truth that attempting to push things too soon may just cause the whole process to abort. It is not possible yet for us to see what the outcome will be. However, to the extent that we manage (with more or less grace) to hold the space for this subtle yet profound transformation, it will already beginning to make itself felt in our lives – much as the quickening fetus flutters within her mother’s belly. We begin to get glimpses of our own potential – that we are much more than we thought we were.
In pregnancy, a wise woman lovingly attends to her physical and emotional needs, knowing that to do so not only feeds her own being, but also that of her forming baby. As we partake in this mystery, we too would do well to pay attention to discern our present needs – physical, emotional and spiritual – and be more conscious of what it is that we are feeding our bodies, hearts and minds with. Similarly, the ‘nesting’ urge of pregnancy is legendary – as we set about creating or adjusting our home to receive a new baby. As we celebrate the mystery of pregnancy, this is a lovely time to follow the prompts of our ‘nesting’ instinct and give ourselves full permission to make our home, especially our bedroom and/or meditation corner, as comfy and nurturing as we want it to be.
Reflections by Ishara de Garis, a contemporary priestess of the Great Mother
originally published online May 2010