Mother of the Night

By Yeye Luisah Teish

The gifts of vision and imagination often meet and greet each other in the world of dreams. Sometimes our dreams are full of fantastic beings moving about in unfamiliar settings, performing great feats that are beyond our physical ability in waking life.

At other times our dreams are inspirational, full of guidance and instructions that, when remembered and followed, lead to the creation of beautiful works of art and powerful discoveries that unlock the mysteries of the natural world.

Albert Einstein gained insight that led to the Theory of Relativity in a dream. Famous writers such as Ray Bradbury and Alice Walker turned their dreams and visions into amazing works of fiction and poetry. And the dreams of everyday people can be shared in a number of ways to foster kinship.

For several decades I was a member of the faculty at the University of Creation Spirituality, under the direction of Father Matthew Fox. I taught art as meditation and community building. We were based in Oakland, but our faculty traveled all over the country teaching music, writing, photography, and art. One of my classes was entitled “Dream Dancing.” In that class we recorded our dreams, discussed their meaning, and created choreography to interpret the messages received in the dream state. These were shared with the community in ritual theater.

In the Summer of 1992, the faculty presented a weekend intensive at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. My students and I chose to hold our class in the Totem Pole Room. We danced beneath the towering visions of Indigenous Pacific Northwest woodcarvers. We danced under the gaze of Wolf, Crow, Frog, and Spirit.

I was fascinated by the intricate carvings, the color of the wood, and the energy emanating from the eyes of the totems. Among the many, there was one pole that held my attention the entire weekend. It was labeled Mother of the Night. (I hope to tempt you to go see it.)

After that weekend I came home and slept for a day and a half. I woke up and wrote this poem which I dedicated to the Yoruba Goddess, Yemaya, the Mother of Dreams.

Mother of the Night

I am the Mother of the Night.
The Great Dark Depth, the Bringer of Light.
All that was, that is, that ever shall be,
all that could or should can only come from me.

High above and far below.
I am the ebb, I am the flow.
The stars in the sky, the fish in the sea.
Every seed, every stone, every critter is me.

I am the Center, the Beginning, the End.
I am without and I am within.
I am the lair, the nest, and the den.
I am the Earth, the Water, and Wind.

The Horned Cow, the many-teated Sow, the Queen bee,
the Mothertree, the Pregnant Womb, the Grain-seed broom, the candle's wick, the matrix, and woman, you are my daughter.

Praise and Love to the Mothers of the World.
Praise and Love to the Sisters of the World.
Praise and Love to the Women of the World.
Praise and Love to my daughters.

To the women in the fields, who plow and plant and turn mill wheels. To those who spin and weave at looms who make the mats, the cloth and brooms. To those who sew the royal robes, to those who pierce the child's earlobes. To those who rub and oil and braid. To all the Queens and all the Maids.

Praise and Love to my daughters.

To those who nurse babes on their breasts, who carry on without due rest. Then rise up early as the dawn to mend the fence and mow the lawn. To those who mix and stir the pot, to those who bake and clean and mop, to those who have and who have not.

Praise and Love to my daughters.

Praise and Love to those who seek, to those who know, and those who speak. To those who smile with tender eyes, whose wisdom penetrates the lies. To those who sing and those who cry. For those who fight for right and die! To those who live to ripe old age, to great-grandma the family sage.

Praise and Love to my daughters.

To those unborn and yet to come, we bid you on with song and hum. From other worlds and through birth-water. Come forth child, beloved daughter.

Praise and Love to the Mothers of the World.
Praise and Love to the Sisters of the World.
Praise and Love to the Women of the World.
Praise and Love to my daughters.

This poem came to me straight out of a dream inspired by gazing at the totem pole. When we dream, the spirit within is revealed — and when we express that spirit in creative works, we can manifest our collective dreaming.

Please join me for The Shift Network's Dreamwork Summit. For more information on my winter class on dreaming, Revelations: Your Secret Life Revealed Through Daydreams, Nightmares, and Visions of the Future, you can email me here.

Pleasant dreams,

Yeye Teish

Yeye Luisah Teish is the author of Jambalaya: The Natural Woman’s Book of Personal Charms and Practical Rituals. She co-authored On Holy Ground: Commitment and Devotion to Sacred Land with Kahuna Leilani Birely. Her latest work is Spirit Revealing, Color Healing: A Creative and Soulful Journey.

Luisah offers online classes in the Elements of Ritual and Casting Lots Divination. She is a co-teacher in the Afro-botany immersion class online, and the annual conference in Costa Rica. She also created the video series "At the Crossroads: Finding Your Life Purpose."

She is a storyteller-writer, an artist-activist, and spiritual guidance counselor. She is an initiated elder (Iyanifa) in the Ifa/Orisha tradition of the West African Diaspora and she offers healing services such as divinations to determine the source of disease or dysfunction, purifications to remove negative energies, and rituals of empowerment. She also uses mytho-synthesis and spiritual enactments to help people embody their guiding archetypes. 

Luisah is internationally known as a conference weaver, workshop facilitator, performance artist, and ritual theater director. She designs spiritual self-health guidance programs for individuals, families, and groups. She conducts a weekend intensive "UnCommon Kinship: Cultivating Community Across Diverse Lines" for professionals whose clients are from a different culture. The workshop includes exercises and practices to prevent compassion fatigue. She serves as an advisor to the Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth group.

Luisah has contributed to 35 anthologies and has written numerous movie, play, and book reviews. She has submitted artworks to the Coreopsis Journal of Art and Ritual; published an article in Cascadia Subduction Zone (a literary quarterly of speculative fiction), and has interviews in magazines such as Essence, Ms., Shaman’s Drum, and Yoga Journal.

Click here to visit Luisah’s website. Click here to visit her Facebook page.

Catalyst is produced by The Shift Network to feature inspiring stories and provide information to help shift consciousness and take practical action. To receive Catalyst twice a month, sign up here.

This article appears in: 2019 Catalyst, Issue 20: The Dreamwork Summit