#RitesofPassage events happen more commonly than we notice as mundane life is continuously giving us challenges and opportunities for growth and transformation at every turn. Family and friends passing away suddenly, car accidents, illness, changing careers, relationships beginning or ending, these experiences transform our very essence. The beauty of treating pregnancy as an #initiation is that it offers a gradual change in identity and with proper guidance gives the individuals experiencing it time to prepare for the transformation ahead. The Pregnancy Portal then becomes a time of focused inward assessment where women and their birth partners can develop their self awareness in a way that support the death of a formal self and the blossoming of a new identity.
In Traditional African Cultures, there are 5 Rites of Passage events which include #Birth, Adulthood, Marriage, Eldership, and Ancestorship. Through this perspective it is the unborn child who is undergoing a rites of passage event, not the parents necessarily. However, our modern culture lacks distinct and meaningful ceremonies to truly honor individuals entering into adulthood. Instead we have a couple vague events such as moving out of your parents home, graduation, and financially supporting oneself which can symbolize possible markers of entering into adulthood without too much commemoration. For many of us, marriage and pregnancy are the major adulthood markers that truly dislodge us from the nest of our adolescence. When we consider the implications of honoring Birth as a sacred rites of passage for the baby and the parents, it is clear that this experience is loaded with potential transformative energy for all involved.
One way I have come to understand my own personal relationship to initiatory energy is it can feel like a Shock. Whether its the vast discrepancy in how I imagined an experience would feel to what it actually is like to be in it or the its the sheer surprise in an event occurring at all, initiations challenge us to the core. This is the only way we can grow sometimes with sudden, unexpected and unforeseen events. The beauty of Reclaiming Pregnancy & Birth as a Rites of Passage is that the only challenge a couple is asked to face during labor and birth in terms of a Shock is in separating expectations out from reality. The Pregnancy Portal offers somewhere near 9 months of time to sort through preparing the psyche for the initiation gateway one walks through during birth. In modern culture, the psyche or the human soul, mind or spirit gets very little acknowledgement. In resurrecting honor of birth as a Rites of passage, we invite the human spirit to join into the process and to be nourished.
In a over medicalized pregnancy scenario, the human psyche gets left out of the process. With constant over focus on physical and physiological symptoms of pregnancy, the psyche is pushed into an anxious state because it is basically being ignored. The beauty of reframing the pregnancy experience to include a thorough review and even an invitation of an individuals emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual landscape can set couples up for arriving at birth feeling resourced rather than anxious. At Elemental Birth Rites we view pregnancy as a Holistic experience where all the parts of oneself come to be seen, loved, and integrated. In this way, the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of a persons experience are all communicating with each other. When all aspects of a person's psyche are welcomed into an experience, even the traumatized or wounded parts get to impart their wisdom on an individual.
Referring to the Shock I mentioned earlier, although the birth can be anticipated fairly certainly minus knowing the exact timing, working to fully contact the unseen and unconscious aspects of ourselves greatly diminishes the chances of a sudden sabotage. When we keep our shadow hidden even from ourselves, those isolated and wounded parts will rear their heads with extreme stress or challenge. Labor presents the exact pressure and challenge needed to crystalize whatever lies beneath the surface of ones awareness into manifestation. I will give an example, a woman has a fear of ending up in the OR for a C-section throughout her whole pregnancy, she chants this unwanted fear repeatedly in her mind throughout her pregnancy as the main thing she DOES not want. Her health care provider never addresses her fears or makes space for her process. She has a beautiful labor but it goes on for longer than she would like and then suddenly she feels she can't do it anymore. She is encouraged to get an epidural which slows down her labor pattern, next she is given IV Pitocin to get her labor going again, but the baby doesn't respond well to the contraction pattern caused by the artificial oxytocin so they send her to the OR for a cesarean. She feels so sad that she ended up in the scenario she most feared and disempowered by her birth story. Her postpartum time is really challenging and she has a hard time grieving her birth story while feeling guilty that she isn't over the moon about her baby's arrival. Her mind and emotions were never invited into the pregnancy process so her fears got the best of her and did a take over.
This take over energy is common in all areas of life when we aren't held accountable for the ways that we Create even in the most subtle forms. One way we address the emotional and mental aspects of a women's experience of pregnancy is by bringing fears to the surface and learning to work with fear as a messenger to co-create with the mystery what we actually DO want. Another way we provide tools for expecting parents is through learning presence. By simply listening to the voices of the inner environment, one can learn to know themselves on a deeper level so that discernment about what thoughts we are willing to entertain actually enters in as a potential choice. Having these simple yet profound tools during the challenges of labor can help steward increased self awareness which can be a huge support in the moment and can have an even more powerful impact on how parents choose to interact with their children.
The actual Rites of Passage gateway can occur during pregnancy, birth, or even parenting as there always emerges at least one major challenge around this potent experience. During pregnancy we guide couples in building their commitment to prioritize self care and in learning to know themselves more fully so they can take responsibility for their defense patterns. In this way, they are asked to adopt new ways of expressing emotional maturity so they can participate in relationship with more harmony and be a better example of stability and support to their new child. This stepping in to adult emotional maturity is so profound as it literally can cut through the endless chain of passing on intergenerational trauma. We have couples review the ways they were parented and get in touch with what worked for them and what did not as a means to create more awareness around this crossing over into becoming a parent so they can make choices about how they want to imprint this new life. As we prepare couples to step into birth and parenting, we have them create altars, do rituals, practice breathwork and meditation, and prepare themselves on a spiritual level for the incoming new soul who will be their greatest teacher. To prepare for the Birth initiation of your child, take a moment to reflect on who you have been because this experience will ask you to leave that all behind. Breathe consciousness into this transformation process and do your part in creating a better place for the future of humanity. It takes individual choice to steward in a time of health and wellbeing, what better time than pregnancy to begin or recommit to this journey of healing and awakening.
Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, But seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children As living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, And He bends you with His might That His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness; For even as He loves the arrow that flies, So He loves also the bow that is stable.