FOR OUR GRANDMOTHERS. BY MARYBETH BONFIGLIO

As the summer sun begins to wane, I think of death.

Not just because the moon begins to reign and the leaves are already falling on the ground in layers of crunch, but because I am taken deeper into my own mythologies. I am asked to look within and sit face to face with the stories I have been telling myself in the season of this sun. 

As I go in, I get closer to all things.  What was laid to rest behind me.  And what is laying itself out in front of me.  And where I am right now.

I get closer to who I am, but also closer to those whose bones and blood have brought me here.  I get to listen to the grandmother’s song inside me. Awakening. 

* * * 

I have never met my grandmothers.  This is a loss I cannot explain and do not have words for. I hear stories that my many siblings tell.  The red nails. The red lips. The not a lick of English. The way heels clicked across the hardwood floors. Ruffled aprons and housecoats..  Homemade provisions. 6 layer high birthday cakes. Shrines to the mother everywhere. The tell me stories in soundbytes and memories.

But I never knew them. I never knew the smell of their clothes.  The loose skin around their elbows.  The inflections in their voices.  I never knew the love of a mother who gave birth to my mother. Or who held me in her own womb when I was a fully formed egg in my mothers growing body.

There is a hole in my heart. I won’t lie. It’s a gap in my story.

I always wanted a grandmother.

A grandma.  To love me. To spoil me.  To teach me the ways of the Old Country. 

I feel like knowing them would have helped me figure out along the way who I am. Why I am the way I am.  There is a story missing from my blood that holds the key to mystery.  Who were these women? Who were the ones that came before them? Before them? Who did they sing songs to? What did they stir over the fire? How did they heal? Why did they flee? Who did they leave behind? 

My oldest daughter is arriving closer to the time of her own blood. Her own moon. She steps into the spiral that leads her to womanhood and I want to give her ancestry.  I want to give her stories.  I will pull them from behind me so she can carry on the magic pass it on. And on. And on. These stories will continue to heal. 

As the daughter of first generations who were trained very well to let go of the Old Country and embrace La Merica with pride, the stories of my blood got very lost, hidden, silenced.  I always felt I carried the unbearable weight of not knowing. 

I wanted to know. Something. I didn’t even know what I wanted to know.

But I knew there was something looking for me. And I was looking for it.  We are looking for each other. 

One time I went to a psychic or medium or whatever you want to call them and it was when I was really ‘in it’ with the baby/breastfeeding years.  And she said: You have a very strong line of women behind you.  Some of them are your bloodline.  Some of them are your lifeline. But they are there. And they want you to know them.  They want you to hear the songs they are singing to you and your children.  These are your grandmothers.  And you are meant to work with them.

This is the work of our blood, the bones and land and water of where we come from. This matters. It does.  Even if we have to make it up.  Even if we to re-tell the stories.  These stories matter.

We all need the grandmothers.

The grandmothers want to be heard.

The grandmothers are the ones who are guiding us into our new state of being. Of living. Of honoring the moon, and the daughters, of ourselves, and of our wombs. The Earth.

This is something I believe in fully.

I believe now is the time.

* * *

When I decided that honoring the roots, creating future roots, was very important to me, I began to learn everything I could about the land my grandmother’s were born on.  One on a mystery Island and the other against the Baltic sea.  These places held unseen treasures and scrolls and temples of stories and myth and uprising and family.  But it was all left behind for a new and better world.

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Instead of relying on the real thing, because there really isn’t a real thing-  {the story of the grandmothers of our bones is infinite and constantly flexible} - I just dove into myth.  I dove into how I felt.  All the reasons I am who I am because of the women before me.  I told myself stories of their lives as young girls, as lovers, as birthing mothers.  I tried to transport myself to their original soil by devouring every ounce of Sicilian {which involves Syrian, Greek, African and Egyptian} as well as Lithuanian/Polish history that I could find.  Myths, tales, legends, trade routes, foods, riots, religions, every last bit of it.  We have all been colonized.  We have all lost our roots, the anchoring into the Original Medicine we were promised was taken from us.  We have all been stolen from and the ways of the grandmother have been appropriated, bought, sold, and re-told as lies or else hidden so far underground and the tools are unknown. But not really. We have them. We are the tools to unearth the healing.

We are here to tell the stories of the unheard.  To be a voice for the pilgrimage of the righteous feminine that came before us.  We are the ones the Grandmothers have been waiting for.  We are the ones that are on the journey of becoming grandmothers ourselves.  How will we hold that space?  We must heal and learn from the roots before us.  This blood holds great wisdom.

* * *

The joto {a term from the African continent, that I feel speaks so well to this} is a layer of spiritual intelligence handed down from ancestors to us.  The joto is like the guardian spirit of the person living, tapping into the bones and blood of what has come before.  I believe that ancestor reverence, especially for the feminine bloodline, holds an important place for the future of our new belief systems and for the birthing a new world into being, a world that heals the earth and heals our wombs, a world so good that we know it can be true.

I believe that working with our bloodlines, our motherlines {and fatherlines} is crucial for releasing the karma of what we hold that is not ours as well as for tapping into the most powerful, protective and healing magic that is ours.

Working with Grandmother energy is learning to work with what is existing at another level.  We ask both for their guidance and help them release anything they carry so they can move into infinite bliss, communicate with clarity, and enjoy the re-birthing process. We can actually play a part in calling something ancient into a new being. Allowing the release into the great cosmic ash.

And more than anything, we tap into the feminine at levels beyond the physical, but that once were physical.  Our grandmother line may indeed be the blood that still courses in our bodies, but it may be blood from other sources, it may not be genetically familial to us.   But does it matter? We are all related, we are all relations, we are all connected- through the moon + the womb. Don’t get stuck on whose blood is guiding you.  We are One Blood.

Work on reconnecting the roots and aligning yourself with The Grandmothers who are ready to help us help ourselves heal the world ::


|| Altar creating || {very simple}

The Light of The Grandmother


Using a small or large space, trace a circle and in the center place a photo of a grandmother, an elder, a wise women that you long to tap into, to listen to, to speak with, to find wisdom from.  You can form a true circle around the photos with rocks or other material, or you can keep it energetic.

On the four corners give offerings in alignment with their culture.  Find out their drinks, their food, their soil, their elements.  This may be the same as your own blood, but maybe you are pulled to another type of grandmother-line.  Spend time at this altar and kneel in front of it, close your eyes, and breathe.  Listen. Listen. Listen. 

It is that simple.  This is your space of ancestry work.  You can always get more elaborate.  {If you want to find our more you can sign up for my newsletter at marybethbonfiglio.com to continue to learning more involved altars and ritual around this work}


|| Writing + Living Roots ||


*Make a list of all the deceased women in your family that you can remember by name.  This list can also be included on your Light Of The Grandmother altar.

*Make a list of deceased women that you honor and respect, that you feel are teachers to you, regardless if related to you.  Add these to your altar as well.

*Write down any stories or memories that you have been told or heard about your motherlines {your motherlines also includes your father’s motherline}

*Find elders that you feel a connection with.  Interview them. They may be family members or maybe they are not.  Listen to these stories as wisdom of the bones.

*Tell your daughter a story about the wise women in you life, a story of a grandmother or an aunt, or a relation.  Or find a story from your culture {or beyond} and share it with your daughter or with a child, relation or not. 

*Spend time writing stories about the things in your space.  Where do some pieces you hold and display come from? What are their stories? Tell the stories about the women who may or may not be connected to each piece.  I am talking art, decor, clothes, nature outside.  This is a creative writing endeavor, there is no right or wrong.  Write poetry about what is around you and connect it all to the great mothers.

*Write a story about a women who is spiritually with you.  You may know her.  You may not.  But you feel her.  Who is she? Give her a name.  Give her a purpose.  Give her your time and your honor. 


May you and your relations always communicate in peace and honor.  May the bloodlines be healed.  May you find your motherline teachers. May the moon be revered.  May the waters be respected.  May the Earth be given more life.  May the Grandmothers be heard.  Blessed will it all be.


MaryBeth Bonfiglio

writer. mother. speaker. creator. 

 amulet co-publisher. earth-trained herbalist. ancestry schooled tarot reader. co-host of a podcast about love.

 

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