If you’ve ever attended a guided meditation class, one of the first journeys the teacher might take you on is to imagine yourself as a tree with roots growing from the bottoms of your feet or your root chakra. These roots spread out and grow and entangle themselves with the center of the earth so you will feel grounded before embarking on lengthening the trunk of your body through breath and then stretching into an ethereal experience in the branches of your mind and soul. It’s soul-stretching at its finest.
The mystical tree of life is a symbol deeply embedded into our subconscious and the human experience. Kathryn Knight Sonntag explored this in her stunning poetry which I reviewed here. Now, she takes her readers on a second exploration into the Divine Feminine through prose. From the very first pages of Kathryn Knight Sonntag’s profound book, “The Mother Tree: Discovering the Love and Wisdom of Our Divine Mother,” one is gently yet irresistibly drawn into an expansive, verdant forest of ideas, metaphors, and teachings that reach to the sky even as they remain deeply rooted in the rich soil of theological concepts. Kathryn’s writing always makes me feel elevated, but she also creates sentences that make me set the book down for a few moments because the truth is weighted and I need to rest in the ideas. Just as the title suggests, Kathryn has penned a tribute to the divine feminine, an ode to the mother, presented in a nurturing and symbiotic connection to us. This book is an intimate journey into discovery and reconnection that begins with the seed of consciousness and blooms into an understanding of divine love and wisdom embodied in the figure of the Divine Mother.
Kathryn organizes her book into three chapters – the roots, the trunk, and the crown. These parts of the tree symbolize the three different “regions of our spiritual journey as a way to discover our Divine Mother.” Kathryn describes her yearnings to know the truth about the character of God/Goddess and to find a “more integral vision of the Mother” which in turn will guide her soul to “reveal its truest self.” The first question she asked herself while trying to expand the roots from this seed is, “What parts of me come from my Mother?” It’s a concurrent exploration of herself and the Divine.
By examining the roots of our theology, we will discover a collective Mother wound, where we don’t perceive the individual need for a Mother. In this dark place, she calls for us to take a look at what is deeply unresolved inside of us concerning the loss of the Divine Feminine. Kathryn, using her translation of the beginning of Genesis, asks what it would be like to revisit the Creation story from a different perspective. “The Gods sing the land dry and sing the great waters together.” Wholeness is divided for a purpose. The prose in Kathryn’s version is not to be missed! It’s gorgeous! She wants us to examine “the confusion and collective root rot regarding the feminine and the masculine” because a vision of a healthy balance is “fundamental to our journey back home.” Kathryn advocates not to look with resentment or hatred, but with complete presence. This might take some suffering and descending into difficult places in our psyche, but we can count on Mother God to support us through it. Like roots spreading out in the ground and around one another, suffering connects us to each other and to our Divine parents. “Mother God holds us, as She did Her son Jesus, in the extremity of pain.”
Kathryn moves us into the trunk of her exploration by calling us to stand in deep presence in nature. This represents the mortal sphere. She invites us to trust our bodies and awareness and in that way gain wisdom through experience. Our senses are conduits of wisdom. Never advocating for a purely feminine viewpoint, Kathryn’s ultimate hope is that we understand the balance of the divinely “feminine and masculine aspects of ourselves.” Wholeness is harmony according to Kathryn, and becoming truly awake and alive, just as our Savior is. In the trunk, we learn how to integrate knowledge as our mind, spirit, and body intersect. If you look into a forest, you would see that all the organisms are bound together. So, we are bound to the earth and to our divine parentage.
One of my favorite quotes from the book is in Kathryn’s description of the Divine Mother. “From the first parting of the firmament over the land, and like the parables woven from Jesus’ lips, She thrives. In the wisdom of the land She speaks. In the howl of the wolf, the quaking of tectonic plates, in the breaking down of chlorophyll, the revelation of colors long buried now vibrant, the voice of the Mother is in the wild all around us and the wild within us. We are wild…it means cultivating a practice of surrender to our inner knowing in order to stay grounded in what is real.” How do we do this? By listening in stillness to our heart – the center and core of the trunk. It is our Axis Mundi. In the ritual of going out into nature, we will experience “epiphany, revelation, and transcendence” just as we experience “waves, wind, and birdsong.”
This section is where Kathryn is most profound, in my opinion. Because of her environmental background in landscape and planning with her additional thesis on the role of the transcendent in landscape, Kathryn solidifies her unparalleled role as observer and experiencer. I just love quoting her because of the way she has with words. When describing how Mother God is hidden in plain sight in Her creations, Kathryn writes: “She asks for our humility in the face of other sacred beings She has been instrumental in creating: the ancient wisdom of the redwoods, the language of humpback whales, the touch-mourning of a herd of elephants when one their own lies down and dies. She asks for the resounding reality of our oneness to be expressed to each other now, in this life. Our own salvation is dependent on loving our neighbor as ourselves. Are the bears, wolves, trees, deer, and sparrows not also our neighbors?…how true it is that our destinies are bound up together.” In embodiment, we experience God.
If a direct connection with God can be made through inner stillness, then the symbolism of the Mother Tree begs us to stretch our branches from our heart to God’s “mystic center, the point of absolute beginning,” and to “the point to which we seek to return.” Learning to commune with God is the “crown” of our tree and the tree of life is the point we can orient correctly. What is that orientation? Love. Love is the true character and nature of God. Kathryn’s book presents the Divine Mother as a source of unconditional love, healing, and guidance. And, since we are a blueprint of Her, we are love. “Your tree of life grows inside you, manifesting your eternal soul to yourself.” I consider this book to be a guide map to new soul depths, connecting us to the nurturing essence of the Divine Mother.
“The Mother Tree” is a masterful tapestry woven with threads of theological understanding, research, spiritual wisdom, and Kathryn’s personal experiences. Each page is a leaf on the Mother Tree collectively forming a testament to the Divine Mother and Her love and wisdom. In the hands of less-skilled authors, such a profound exploration could quickly become overwhelming for a reader. But Kathryn’s writing is delicate and powerful, understandable and challenging, and keeps us connected to the tangible world even as we explore the divine. It’s accessible to all readers, regardless of their spiritual standing.
In conclusion, “The Mother Tree: Discovering the Love and Wisdom of Our Divine Mother” is a remarkable exploration of the divine feminine and its transformative potential in our lives. It is a spiritual sojourn in literary form, guiding us toward wisdom, love, and a deeper understanding of our place in the spiritual and earthly ecosystems. By the end, readers will not only have discovered the Divine Mother but also embraced the divine within themselves.
You can find Kathryn Knight Sonntag here: