• © Sheila Foster

Mary Ma, Undoer of Knots: A Goddess Doing Her Job

In first grade at Saint Joseph’s School, at age six, I learned about shame and I learned about Blessed Mother Mary. I climbed into Her lap with the Hail Mary prayer and decided that She was my Real Mother.

In the early 80’s, in the midst of my work with women and my studies of the archetypal Feminine, Kundalini Shakti arose and took me on a wild, life-changing ride, waking me up to the Mystery that I had loved since I read the children’s versions of biographies of the Saints and Mystics in first grade. Kundalini Ma opened me to the most creative years of my life through direct experience of the potency of the Divine Feminine. I was immersed in studying and sharing what I was learning and experiencing through my work with other women. I learned that just about every indigenous culture had their own Mother Goddesses and some had many Goddesses.

I was led to the Hindu Goddesses by Kundalini Ma and began engaging them for help and support as I was as yet un-educated about this unfathomable Kundalini energy coursing through my body and life. Everything I needed was provided, including the arrival of the perfect books at just the right time that let me know I was dealing with Kundalini energy. We didn’t have internet then and I did begin to notice that I was experiencing more synchronicities and the arrival of teachers and teachings for my next lesson in this mysterious process. While I still prayed to Mother Mary, I was introduced to some of the pantheon of Hindu goddesses: Shakti Ma, Kali, Durga, and Lakshmi. I learned about each one and my heart was being opened wider as time went on. My devotion and my Goddess altar also grew to include each of them, as I learned about their gifts and energetic transmissions. Kwan Yin also arrived, too, and I deeply needed Her compassion and to learn self-compassion.

I felt them all as One, even though each had her own unique super-powers, stories, appearances, and service to humanity. My experiences led me to see that Eve, too, is our ancestral Great Mother Goddess, lost to our love and adoration through the patriarchal shaming of Her that deprived us of Her love, mothering, and care. It demeaned all women and still does. Part of Eve’s legacy to us is Her commitment to following Her own guidance, recognize and live Her own alignment with Source. As Eve’s daughters, we can do the same in our own lives.

Despite their different faces, appearances, empowerments, and cultural connections, my experience is that there is the One Great Mother in the many representations.


A couple of months ago, some of our Temple women and I were introduced to Mother Mary, Undoer of Knots. None of us had ever heard of this Divine Mother who is known for fulfilling requests by untying the various kinds of knots that are entangled within our hearts and bodies, our unconscious, and our lives. We decided to engage Her with a devotional practice for nine days, called a Novena, with each of us choosing which of our “knots” to put on Mary Ma’s altar, and which spiritual practice each of us wanted to do. Our results were excellent as so much happened during our nine days, so we invited a larger group of women to join us. We gathered online August 1st to launch another Novena to Mother Mary, Undoer of Knots. After the nine days, the participating women checked in and the results were amazing, if not miraculous for some women.

How does a Novena work?

One day in the Temple of the Sacred Feminine, about 20 years ago, guidance came to offer one of my favorite practices from my Catholic tradition and modify it to be non-denominational, called the Novena. It is simple and mostly focused on asking for some kind of divine help with a human problem or situation.

We designate nine consecutive days to do a spiritual practice of your choice, or several if you feel called. Mark your calendar. This particular invitation to join us in the Novena is to meet Mother Mary, Undoer of Knots. A knot is an obstruction of sorts, in ourselves and our lives. Please read on to learn more. In the first of these novenas, I was testing Her to see if this MA really delivers, and she certainly did—beyond my wildest imagination.

Often, one Novena will untie the knot and something changes as there is full resolution, and sometime more than we could imagine. Other times, that first novena provides the beginning of preparation for the help we have requested as a step toward what we have asked for. Chaos usually arrives before creation as old structures have to be broken down and removed so the new can rise up. It can go like the renovation of a room or a whole house, if necessary. Sometimes we get surprised by receiving something we did not ask for that is more wonderful than we could imagine. Consider what it’s like to unravel a knotted ball of yarn or even a knotted, fine gold chain on a necklace. We have to leave it all in Her hands. She knows. We don’t. One of the most important things is to practice non-attachment to a particular outcome. The Rolling Stones have some dharma on this in their iconic song, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” I sometimes hear the background women singing that in my mind.

Novenas have been done through the ages by zillions of people. Nine is a mystical number, so they could have begun long before Catholicism took them on. The Novena is an immensely powerful morphic field. I have come to experience the Novena practice is aligned and partnered with Divine Arrangement. This means we get what is needed. Everything is divinely arranged for each of us, and if you look back on your life, or witness your life now, you may be able to recognize this. In writing my spiritual memoir, I have been stunned by the way the puzzle pieces of my whole life have been divinely arranged, unknown to me at the time of the happenings, of course, and every piece is inter-connected with every other piece. We cannot always see it or feel it when it arrives, but I have come to trust that we are not the doers… Divine Arrangement is happening every moment. Everything is connected even if we cannot see that.

Novenas provide beautiful opportunities to learn to trust and surrender thinking we have control or know what is needed. There are many profound spiritual teachings that come through Novenas, in addition to what we are requesting. Along the way, we learn how to ask in simple ways, stay very present and engaged with what is happening within us and in life through the nine days, make notes or journal about what happened, and we can be mindful of keeping our hearts open to receive. Some of us have difficulty receiving, and we are great at giving to others. This is an opportunity to practice receiving as it is the same as giving. When we fully receive a gift or compliment it gives pleasure to the one giving to us. We know this. Doing a Novena is a simple process with many deep ramifications. We cannot always have what we want, and if that is the case, look more closely to see if what you receive is even better.

What’s a Knot?

In my world, a knot is something we feel within us that we don’t want, causes pain, or feels like it is obstructing something within or in our lives. A knot can be anything that causes us to ask for help, information, understanding, resolution, love, or what we think might be missing. During the nine days we can change the practice if that feels right, as well as add to what we have asked for. If that feels answered, it is important to stay in the conversation with Her all the way through the ninth day, because we cannot know what She knows or what else may appear.

We use any form of spiritual practice we want to and can invent our own. Sometimes for me it’s mantra, or conversation with MA each day, chanting, walking, saying ‘Hail Marys’, or doing Samyama. Other times, in really stressful situations, the best I can do is say, “MA, I need some f-ing help here!! Where are you?”

Take some time to quiet your mind or go to your meditation and ask the question, “What knots am I holding?” Usually we know some of them right away, and other subconscious knots may start to emerge and show themselves once we are committed to doing the nine days or in the midst of them.

The best part is that everything needed is provided, sometimes beyond or instead of what we think is needed. It often comes in unexpected or mysterious ways that we cannot imagine. This is the Divine Arrangement part of Novenas. Sometimes certain things within us or in our outer lives have to die or dissolve like a caterpillar in order for the Monarch butterfly of new life to emerge in a more beautiful, awakened way. Synchronicities, magical encounters, surprises, happen. Difficult challenges happen, too, via Divine Arrangement, in service to our ever-expanding consciousness unfolding and our hearts breaking open. Mary, Undoer of Knots will provide what is needed when the time is right.

If you decide to join the Novena group September 1 and/or October 1, you can do so by emailing me to be on the zoom call or by yourself. You can be in the field either way. If have something you want to share about your experience, I will be gathering these stories via email. I can keep it private or add to the email thread of other Novena reports. Reading the other reports is inspiring and joyful.

Love and Blessings…

Here is a link to my go-to song when I need some Big Help:

written by Eric Clapton called “Holy Mother, Where Are You?”:

Eric Clapton & Pavarotti -