Birthing as Shamanic Experience

Posted on March 18, 2015 at 11:35 AM

Birthing Woman - Lucy Pierce

Exploring the sacred energies of birth and the inherent innate body wisdom we are gifted as women as part of my Shamanic Midwifery training, it seems totally natural and in keeping that bith is the ultimate initiation and rite of passage that leads us into the depths of shamanic transformation.    Women have birthed for aeons in natural ways, without intervention that enable hormones to gift access to states of euphoria and ecstatic bliss.

Below are some words from 'Birthing as Shamanic Experience'

by Leslene Della-Madre.

Giving birth naturally, according to Vicki Noble, is a "peak shamanic experience" for a woman (Shakti Woman). When women give birth in wide-awake consciousness, we are given the opportunity to know how we are in relationship with the mysterious creative life force.

Our body-wisdom knows how to birth a baby. What is required of the woman who births naturally is for her to surrender to this body-wisdom. You can't think your way through a birth, and you can't fake it. In some spiritual practices, much attention is given to the process of the rising kundalini at the base of the spine when one enjoys various "openings" in the pursuit of enlightenment. Barbara Walker refers to kundalini as the "Tantric image of the female serpent coiled in the lowest chalks of the human body, in the pelvis."

Giving birth is one of the most profound human experiences of that "opening". It is kundalini moving through the birthing body, rising with every rush of energy that opens the cervix. Not only is the opening felt during these rushes, but also in-between.  The opening experience has a deep resting place where the body and soul of the birthing woman gather strength to accept the coming waves of the awesome kundalini as it continues to move through her, culminating in the birth of a new life. When I gave birth, I had the experience of feeling that I was the All, and the All was me, and that we were in this ecstatic dance together. I was the created and the creator at the same times the dreamer and the dreamed, the breather and the breathed. There was no question about "where" my spirituality was; it was not in the sky, it was in the body. It took every ounce of "great pure effort" -- a buddhist teaching of what it takes to achieve enlightenment -- to show up for the process that was moving through me.

If I chose to spend time complaining, the birthing energy reflected that. It was immediate cause and effect. It was not that I had to deny pain, but I was supremely challenged to frame it in a way that would allow safe passage for my baby. I was asked by the Goddess to surrender completely to the experience, and let it take over.  When I felt the energy of birthing kundalini as painful, my midwives compassionately guided me to interpret it in a different way, where I could integrate it as something that would take great courage and strength, but that I had it in me to open to it and take it in.

My midwives were mothers too, and had been through the experience. They knew what they were talking about. This made a big difference in how I could create a safe passage for my child. To have compassionate mirrors telling me I could do this made it possible for me to do it. I trusted them. I had to learn to feel the energy of creation as intense rather than painful, and trust that my body was capable of handling this intensity.

In giving birth, I also learned about the nature of surrender.

May spiritual teachings tell us that surrendering is essential to spiritual well-being. We need to learn that we are not the centre of the universe, and to be open to outcome. When a woman gives conscious birth, she experiences this teaching directly.  I did not know if I was going to live or die, nor did I know if my baby would live or die. Entering the unknown in full surrender, the mother is in a deeply spiritual relationship with the All.

The Fullness of Life - Mara Friedman

For women in patriarchy, this sacred connection is not acknowledged. What women are told is that we must go to the hospital -- the place where people go when they are ill. And what happens to us there? We are told how to give birth by a male mind (whether it be mouthed by women or men). And in these directives, we are made to feel dependent on what the male mind knows. The male mind says that women need to escape the experience, and take numbing drugs. When a woman is drugged, her baby is also. In that state, she does not get the opportunity to experience birth as a process of enlightenment -- as an awakening of her soul. Patriarchy does not want women to know this power of birth, because men will not be able to control women if women know this power inherent in our beings.

It is my prayer that women will be able to come together and find our "tend and befriend" ways. For some strange reason, or reasons, men fear this power. How very odd, since it is where they come from? Men wind up fearing where they come from, and spend lifetimes trying to be better than this power, trying to control this power, being jealous of this power, fabricating male birth myths to prove they have this power. In the process, they have developed amnesia about what this power is really about and how they are part of it. Until this changes, unless there is transformation at the core, there is little hope for a peaceful existence here on this planet. Changing the faces of the cast of characters in this drama does not create a new play.

The experience of my birthings also showed me the incredible power of sisterhood. My guiding sister-midwives became the embodiment of the priestesses of the Goddess. They completely cared for me and loved me through a most difficult passage. They watched over me like angels, and took care of all my needs. Apprentice midwives stayed with me after the births, and I could just stay with my babies and bond. I was tended to by people who came and cooked, and looked after things until I was ready to resume my regular life. I was lucky to live in a place where women and children were loved. The sacredness of the time during and following the birth was honoured by the entire community. Everyone had respect for a woman who had just given birth, and everyone knew that I was in an altered state. My male partner was able to witness the love of women, and the love of the mother and child. He was able to surrender to the process, and not be concerned about being the star. He was able to be of service. And, he was able to bond with our babies as well. He was not afraid to love them, and did not feel shame when showing tenderness. Witnessing this miracle changed him and opened his heart. He was grateful to be a part of it, and humbled by the magnitude of what women do in birth.

The Goddess was everywhere. It was Her face tending me, guiding me, and feeding me. It was Her face looking back at me through the eyes of my babies, and it was Her arms that held these new beings and it was Her breasts that nourished them.

Sheela na Gig Birthing - Artist Unknown


Categories: Sacred Birth, Shamanism, Celebration of Rites of Passage

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