Awakening to Our Feminine Soul—Edge of Grace (foreword by Sil Read)

     When a woman becomes a mother, she undoubtedly has transcendent experiences along the way. Whether it be the first moment she lays her eyes on her baby and holds them and gazes into their eyes- or any of the many miraculous milestones that follow — all mamas have downright mystical experiences. Most mothers experience their role as the most meaningful — if not the most meaningful experience of their lives.

     And yet, all the mothers I have known or worked with (through my experience as a women’s health nurse practitioner, psychotherapist, and retreat leader) are not fully prepared for the many challenges they will undoubtedly face. Nor are mothers adequately held as they face those challenges.

     New mamas in our culture are inevitably pushed to the edge by sleep deprivation and hormonal fluctuations, which are exacerbated by the radical changes in their day-to-day lives. Many don’t have the choice of going back to work or not. And as if these conditions aren’t challenging enough, most mothers encounter a woeful lack of community support, guidance, and/or financial resources that they are in desperate need of. No wonder so many feel unprepared for the task at hand. And who has the time or the capacity to make mothering a meaningful or spiritual experience — a path to awakening — when it can feel as if one’s survival is at stake?

     Enter Prajna O’Hara Ginty mother of three daughters, trauma therapist, spiritual seeker and teacher, and Wise Woman extraordinaire. This book is certainly what I needed after a birthing experience that unexpectedly veered away from the natural home birth I had prepared for, to an urgent rush to the hospital for an emergency C-section. Unfortunately, Prajna was not there to meet me as I struggled in the aftermath. I desperately needed a way to meet the challenges that arose around the birthing and then, later, as a mother parenting with an emotionally absent husband. I was mothering without a map.

     I want to be clear that it’s not necessary to have a traumatic birthing story to need this book! Prajna has given us mamas a framework for mothering amidst all of the challenges that arise as we embark on the journey. There is no challenge too small or too big that she won’t help you rise to. Prajna’s got your back and is offering you a map for meeting the inevitable roadblocks on your heroine’s journey of mothering. By showing us how to honor difficult challenges as deeply meaningful and universal, we learn that these are rites of passage that will help us to find infinitely resilient places in ourselves.

 

     

     Prajna found infinitely resilient places in herself. As you will learn within the pages of this book, she had a smooth and natural birth experience with her first daughter, and in every way the opposite when birthing her twin daughters. Prajna faces impossibly difficult excruciating challenges and yet manages to surrender to the agony and the ecstasy of it all with the utmost incredible grit and grace.

      When my teacher, the Jungian analyst, and author, Marion Woodman was living through a harrowing bout of cancer and was not sure whether she would live or die she wrote:

I learned the difference between destiny and fate. We are all fated to die. Destiny is recognizing the radiance of the soul that, even when faced with human impossibility, loves all of life. Fate is the death we owe to Nature. Destiny is the life we owe to soul.

     Simply put: fate is the shit that can happen to us in life, and destiny is how we choose to meet it and walk it. When faced with impossible tests, Prajna kept choosing to love all of life the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly. Like a master alchemist who knows that ‘the gold is in the dung’, she transmutes her fate into her soul’s destiny, and she not only survives to tell the tale- she also thrives to tell the tale.

     Her tale begins at an early age, working alongside her mother, and unconsciously internalizing the myth of female inferiority. It would take a long time before she saw how her mother was unfairly blamed for a multitude of problems: too many children (eight), her husband’s absence, her son’s delinquent behaviors, unpaid bills, or the inability to clothe her children in suits or dresses for Sunday mass. At age twelve Prajna helped her mother pay the bills by working on her kitchen crew at summer camps. Prajna recalls that when her mother discovered she was pregnant with child number eight, she went to Father Clancy.

     Her mother told her,

I went to confession again. I told Father Clancy that I couldn’t take care of any more babies. Harry isn’t paying the bills. I’m on my own.

No matter, my child, the good Lord will provide,” Father said. “Now be a good girl and say your Hail Mary’s and Our Fathers.”

       Prajna’s O’Hara Ginty inherited this mothering map from her mother, and when Prajna faced her version of an impossible fate, she managed to meet it and chart an entirely new path. Like Inanna’s descent into the depth of the underworld, Prajna walked naked, exposed, and lacking self-confidence. And through facing and feeling the pain of it all, she ascended as a newly formed, perfectly imperfect, and confident version of herself. By making her life as a mother her dharma, her daughters became her spiritual teachers, and she strove to navigate the madness of America’s broken medical system.

     It came as no surprise to me when I learned that the name of our Wise Woman author Prajna means ‘heart wisdom’. In her deliciously salty way, Prajna explains that heart wisdom means “take no shit.” For her, embodying this word means to “no longer be regulated by protocols, social constructs, or sets of instructions, and instead to utilize what is most beneficial at the time.”

     Through her rite of passage, she felt her rage, found her voice, and stayed forever true to her feminine soul. She made a vow “to honor everything in life as a treasure with undeniable inherent value, especially at the most vulnerable moments of birthing and dying.”

Holy Mother of God!

 

     Let’s be honest; although we are told that motherhood has the utmost spiritual and moral value, we grow up knowing on some level, deep down, that it has no real value in our culture. Women (and men) in our patriarchal culture grow up receiving the implicit message that mothering (or parenting) is not a real job — and that it’s actually not real work. Ouch.

     For better or worse, we are left to find that value on our own, and if we are lucky enough, we have this book in our hands, and it is for better. As Prajna writes: We are “more than enough. Special beyond measure.” By receiving this sweet medicine from the heart wisdom of our Wise Woman Prajna, we can begin to experience true sovereignty — as mothers who don’t question our value — on this precious Mother Earth.

     Prajna has offered us the exquisite opportunity to “embody peace amidst broken appliances, family conflicts, single parenting, the heart-wrenching experiences of violence, infidelity, or carrying for the ill, disabled or dying. She assures us that “gathering in circles mend our heartbreaks, and give us the opportunity to be witnessed which rinses shame, mends isolation, and brings us together as a community.” 

     Awakening to our feminine soul amidst broken appliances, messy diapers, and our messy human lives? I’m all in! Will you join us? Prajna has given us this remarkable opportunity by clearing the path for us to make our way.

Blessed are We Among Awakening Women.

     This foreword for the new edition of Edge of Grace, Fierce Awakenings to Love by Prajna is written by the best-selling author and student of Marion Woodman — Sil Read.

Follow this link to download your ebook from this website or go to Amazon for the printed version. The official launch is in October 2014. My twins Abby and Libby’s birthday month. We welcome you to our launch team by submitting a review to Amazon before October 21 to encourage others to read this inspiring and important story.

Sil Read is the best-selling author of Mothering and Daughtering. Little Compton, Rhode Island, 2024