chapter 6: the primal female spirit

by kye on May 28, 2010

Surely the power of the Great Mother is something more than emptiness!

In many commentaries and translations of this chapter, what’s emphasized is the emptiness of the valley, and its lowness. It’s even been said that the Valley Spirit is immortal because in its emptiness it doesn’t really quite exist!  I protest.  Even though I know that emptiness can be very fecund indeed, still…

I think what’s being talked about in this chapter is something that does very much exist–but on a different and more subtle level than the purely physical.

The text does say (depending on how you translate it) that the Valley Spirit is the Great Mother–and the spirit of the Great Mother findable in each of us, by us ourselves.  But what exactly is that spirit? In other words, what is this active principle which we can access any time?

I’m a mother. So I’m pausing here to contemplate my experience as mother, for clues.  I’m noticing how it is to be intimately related to a bit of the unending flow of life, a bit which has passed through me.  Raising children, giving birth, all of that was a lot of work! Still, in another way, there is an effortlessness to my relation to that flow of life.

As I sit here with the feel of this, suddenly I begin to be viscerally connected with the Valley Spirit. I feel myself as Valley, changed by the action of the water over time.

But at the same time, there is something that doesn’t change. I can feel its presence in me, working powerfully. What is this that doesn’t change?

It’s what nurtures. It’s got love as its foundation. It’s a special kind of love which is primal… instinctive… powerful… neverending. It cradles life.

It’s devotion.

the Valley Spirit never dies
she is the primal spirit of Woman

she is the very first dwelling place
she is creation’s root foundation

her spirit is like a neverending gossamer thread of silk
nearly invisible
very strong

it’s ready at hand
never exhausted

— Kye Nelson: translation and commentary on Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching

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©2010 Kye Nelson

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