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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in childbirth
The Magic of Childbirth: Rites of Protection

Violet Moore Higgins, "Three days agone - I found a tiny fair-haired infant"

This year has been a year of changes for me, some of which have yet to occur and others that have already occurred. The biggest, of course, was the birth of my second child in August. With her came the upset of routine, family dynamic, sleep, and all those other disorienting but completely natural shifts inherent in bringing a new life – a new spirit (or spirits, depending on your conception of the Self) – into this brilliant, dynamic world of the living. Of course, thanks to modern medicine, childbirth for me was a much less daunting experience than it was for my ancestors (and, sadly, for those today who live without access to adequate medical care).

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The Magic of Pregnancy (or: If You Need Me, I'll Be Throwing Up and Peeing at the Same Time)

Check it out--I'm pregnant with my second daughter! Incidentally, I've been too sick to blog for the past six months. It's worth it in the long run, right?

My first pregnancy was pretty textbook, but this one's been rough. The nausea and fatigue of the first trimester lasted until week 20 or so, at which point my uterus sprouted a new fibroid that sent me to the ER with pain and preterm labor symptoms. Since then, I've been working from home a couple days a week and taking it easy, but my body seems to have skipped over the high-energy period of the second trimester and gone straight to the constant exhaustion of the third trimester.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • The Cunning Wife
    The Cunning Wife says #
    First off, congratulations! You and I are due to deliver at around the same time -- late August -- and I'm having a girl, too! Thi
  • Tacy West
    Tacy West says #
    I laughed at the first comment "peeing and sick at the same time" which was so true of all three of my pregnancies. Mothering is

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

It is late autumn, 2009. I am 30 years old and pregnant with my third baby. He dies during the early part of my second trimester and I give birth to him in my bathroom, on my own with only my husband as witness. The blood comes, welling up over my fingers and spilling from my body in clots the size of grapefruits. I feel myself losing consciousness and am unable to distinguish whether I am fainting or dying. As my mom drives me to the emergency room, I lie on the back seat, humming: “Woman am I. spirit am I. I am the infinite within my soul. I have no beginning and I have no end. All this I am,” so that my husband and mother will know I am still alive.

 I do not die.

This crisis in my life and the complicated and dark walk through grief is a spiritual catalyst for me. A turning point in my understanding of myself, my purpose, my identity, and my spirituality. 

It is my 31st birthday. May 3rd. My baby’s due date. I go to the labyrinth in my front yard alone and walk through my labor with him, remembering, releasing, letting go of the stored up body memory of his pregnancy. I am not pregnant with him anymore. I have given birth. This pregnancy is over. I walk the labyrinth singing and when I emerge, I make a formal pledge, a dedication of service and commitment to the Goddess. I do not yet identify myself verbally as a priestess, but this is where the vow of my heart begins.

I do not know at the time, but less than two weeks later, I discover I am in fact pregnant with my daughter, my precious treasure of a rainbow baby girl who is born into my own hands on my living room floor the next winter. As I greet her, I cry, “you’re alive! You’re alive! There’s nothing wrong with me!” and feel a wild, sweet relief and painful joy like I have never experienced before.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Kristy
    Kristy says #
    3 Beautifully written and so heartfelt. Congratulations on your baby girl.
  • Molly
    Molly says #
    Thank you, Kristy!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Red Beads: A Tale of the Kalasha

Lore-master Kazi Khosnawas sits under an old walnut tree and tells a story.

Eight generations ago, before the time of Shuragali, Kalasha women wore black beads from Peshawar, but now they favor red beads. Here is why.

Shuragali was staying in the bashali, the Women's House, because she was just about to give birth, but Tiliwari lurked outside, seeking to devour her. (Tiliwari, a cruel being in the shape of a man covered with hair, his mouth red with blood, preys upon pregnant and parturant women.) Shrewd Shuragali enticed him into the bashali and pushed him into the fire, where he burned to death. Ever since then Kalasha women have worn red beads in tribute to her courage and resourcefulness.

This is a local story, says lore-master Kazi Khosnawas. That's how we know it's true.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Meet the Minoans: Eileithyia

Though she is not as well-known as some of the other Minoan deities who made their way into the later Olympian pantheon, Eileithyia, the divine midwife and goddess of childbirth, was profoundly important to the ancient Cretans. There is some speculation that Eileithyia is actually her Minoan/pre-Greek name, which is unusual among the deities from Crete; we know most of them only from their later Greek epithets. In the Cretan dialect her name is Eleuthia (e-re-u-ti-ja in Linear B), which may connect her to Eleusis and the mystery religion celebrated there. A goddess of birth could certainly have a place in the transformational ceremonies of a mystery religion. The meaning of her name is disputed, though it may have its roots in the term ‘to bring’ or ‘to deliver,’ which would make sense for a goddess of childbirth, or possibly in the word for ‘to aid or relieve.’ She is sometimes depicted as multiples – the Eileithyias – rather than a single goddess, and sometimes as a dual goddess, one who either slows labor or speeds it, depending on her attitude toward the laboring woman. To me, her multiplicity links her to the oldest female deities such as the Fates and the Mothers (Meteres or Matrones).

The Minoans worshiped Eileithyia at a cave near Amnisos, the ancient port that served the city of Knossos. Archaeologists have found evidence of her continuous worship in that cave beginning in Neolithic times, so she is one of the oldest Minoan deities. According to legend, she was born in that cave, making her a part of the living landscape of the island, much like Rhea. In the cave archaeologists have found figurines of women in childbirth, nursing babies and in prayer postures. These votive offerings women made to this goddess tell us what they wanted from Eileithyia, which is pretty much the same thing pregnant women have always desired and still hope for: a safe and fast delivery of a healthy child who nurses strongly and grows well. In this way, Eileithyia ties us to our ancestors going back through the generations and the millennia.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

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There's something immensely powerful in women baring our bellies.

Quoted in The Woman's Belly Book, a woman describes what would happen when her daughter, as a toddler, met someone for the first time: She'd lift her shirt up and show them her belly.

Here's an adult, and global, example. "Get Your Belly Out" is a worldwide campaign that four women in the UK have launched to raise awareness of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Crohn's disease, and colitis — all ways of naming the belly's deep distress. Using Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, supporters are posting photos of their bellies bared. They're also donating to research that will generate a cure for these gut-wrenching diseases.

I love how bellies bared for the camera make such an impact. They're saying: "Here I am, you can't ignore me now." When women bare bellies in a joint enterprise, the message is: "Here we are, you can't ignore us now."

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
It has not escaped my attention that of all of the drugs and medical procedures that have ever been, birth control (including IUDs) and abortion have the greatest potential to save the Earth.  Right now, we face a terrible contradiction:  Too Many People & Not Enough Planet. 
 
As Peter Grey says in his latest essay*:
 
[W]e do not simply have peak oil, we have peak water, peak wood, peak rare earths, peak everything that is drawn into the maw of the inexorable algorithim of industrial culture and the inevitable wars and revolutions that resource scarcity produces.
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