Once upon a time there was a very poor mother and daughter. They were so poor that the only had the clothes on their backs and a tiny, ramshackle cottage with a leaky roof.
They were hungry aaal the time.
”Baby bawled for mama -skull savaged it,
Death-hunger anger, the kissless trap-clamp.” Ted Hughes.
One day all the mother could give the girl was a single dry biscuit.
”Make it last”, she said.
The girl went out into the forest to see what she could find. There she met a very old lady with a knapsack who knew of her plight.
”I haven’t eaten for three days,” sighed the old lady. ”Do you have anything to eat?”
And so the girl gave her that one biscuit she had.
”Baby bawled for mama -skeleton skelped it,
Clash of crockery knuckles, the shatter bottle bones.” ibid
”That was very kind”, said the old lady, ”and now I’m going to give you something.” And out of her knapsack she pulled out a small iron pot.
”This is a magical pot. It won’t work for me but it will work for you,” she explained. ”When you want to eat, say…
”Little pot, cook!
”And when you’ve had enough, say…’
”Little pot, enough!”
So the girl rushes in with the pot to show her mother. She sets it on the kitchen table and says…
”Little pot, cook!”
And before you know it the pot has filled up with porridge.
”Baby bawled for Mama, grave grinned, gripped it,
windowgap teeth and a flagfloor tongue…” ibid
They had three bowls each.
‘Little pot, enough!”
And they were never hungry again.
Then one day, mother got a bit peckish while the girl was out at play and thought she’d have a bowl or two of porridge seeing as there was such an endless supply an’ all……
….though it took her a couple of goes to remember exactly what to say to the pot…
”Cook, little pot…”
”Little pot, cook…”
And when she got it right the little pot duly obliged till she’d had her fill.
‘Stop, little pot…’
”Little pot, stop…’
”Cease and desist, oh pot…”
But the magic words weren’t right and the pot kept making porridge till it started to pour off the table and onto the floor..
”Stop it, pot…”
”Frickin hey, pot..”
”Mama came, with her bull nostrils
Mama came in the skin of a weasel..” ibid
But the pot kept making porridge. It filled the kitchen till the door squeezed off it’s hinges. It squidged the roof off. It poured out into the street and down the hill. It porridged everything.
The girl was coming up the hill and saw the terrible oaty flood, guessing immediatley what had happened..
”Little pot, enough!”
And so the little pot stopped making its porridge…
but not without considerable damage to..
In a culture where the divine feminine is repressed, relatedness in general and mothering in particular are going to become impoverished. Having had her own sacred bedrock eroded and devalued, mother has less to pass on to her daughter than she might…
precious little to nourish her spiritual life.
A single dry biscuit.
It’s not her fault.
The systematic, unrelenting depracation of the sacred feminine through untold generations takes its toll in every generation, compounded with time, lived out as an unnameable loss, a vague unease, a sense of not belonging, lack of worth and emotional deprivation.
Life unravels where it cannot unfurl.
We pride ourselves on how evolved we are, so much so that its almost counter-intuitive to suggest that ours is a culture wrung through with emotional deprivation. After all, we have everything. And yet one wonders whether this fixation on having to have everything is not part of the problem, our way of trying to deal with it.
Consumer society takes in more than it actually needs in response to a deep undercurrent in the psyche that remains unfed despite the gorging. Likewise, the compulsion to provide the next generation with over and above what they need is a poverty based gesture that attempts to compensate the loss of relatedness endemic in Single System systems…
We will go to extraordinary lengths to deny this..
”People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own souls. …” CG Jung.
We also do this collectively. We do it with aggressive, vehement determination. Our collective inner poverty and emptiness are projected onto nations and peoples in much the same way as the individual narcissist will use those about him to emotionally feed from and into whom he will deposit his waste.
The deprived child needs others, not for companionship (for that ship has already sailed) but as carriers of unbearable anguish. He is pragmatic in his priorities. A culture imbued with the gnawing hunger of this inner poverty will resort to similar strategies. A container must be found and preferably held behind razor wire.
or a nice 6m stone wall….
Having to give up your biscuit is too much cognitive dissonance for the dominant myth of what a pinnacle we are. We split ourselves to deal with it…
schooled in double-think…
and so we’re perfectly happy with the paradox of invading people for their own good and actually need the contradictions of food mountains alongside starving millions in order to be reassured that the madness is really only happening to some one else…
in far far away land.
We bring nations to their knees, militarily and materially, for reasons far greater than stealing their grain store. Or doing the right thing. We create economic systems of recurring famine so that we can have entire peoples to shoulder the projection of our unacknowledged collective hungering.
It’s certainly true that..
”every gun that is made is theft from those that hunger…” D Eisenhower.
but the full irony is that we then point those guns precisely at the Hungry in order to compell them to continue shouldering the starving shadow of the West.
while we help them….
with contracts to fund the infrastructure needed to maintain the poverty we are ostensibly alleviating…
but cannot for that would be to face it in ourselves. The heroine of our story faces the reality of her situation. Her single biscuit cannot be denied.
So the girl has to go into the forest to find something that will feed her.
”If we don’t have what we need from our parents it may be necessary to go to the Great Mother and the Great Father.” Sylvia Brinton Perera.
The daughter gets what she needs from her ancient heritage. It is often the case that deprivation and loss are initiators in life, dark pits that press the youth to brave the wild forest and discover the true extent of her own inner depths.
She meets the Great Mother who tests her to see if her heart is still in the right place despite all her trials and suffering, to make sure that she has not become overly bitter, grasping or turned to self-pity.
The gift of the biscuit is a form of self-sacrifice, a gesture that acknowledges there is more to life than the satisfaction of need . She gives herself in service to a higher principle. Not to mention a brush with death, that great quickener of consciousness….
Its a kindness that cannot go unrewarded. Honouring the deep psyche has a way of making it’s treasures available to us. When you stop trying to bend Life into some prescribed shape before agreeing to live it to the full….
Life loves you back.
The magic pot is a vessel of transformation. Raw and indigestible experience is cooked until it becomes edible and nourishing.
But its important to remember whose pot it is.
Like many a mother whose potential has been hobbled, whose opportunities have been curtailed, the mother in our story unwittingly lives out her forgotten hopes for redemption, her own wholeness, through her child.
“will arouse certain longings in the adult … longings which relate to the unfulfilled desires and needs of those parts of the personality which have been blotted out..” CG Jung
The problem is greater than deprivation. Nature abhors a vacuum and tends to fill it with porridge.
Other people’s porridge.
With bull nostril and weasel skin.
”the disturbing forces that lie below the level of conscious adult life are intuited by the unconscious of the child and give rise to vague fears, apprrehensive fantasies and disturbing dreams.” F. Wickes
and its left to the child concerned to put an end to it….
”an irrevocable loss for no new and finer comradeship takes place of the outgrown one….” ibid
all of which means, perhaps, that the greatest thing we can do for our kids is to find own porridge pot, to have gone looking in the woods ourselves and discovered meaning in life when they are not around.