Can you believe we have come to the dawn of a new season?!
Below is an excerpt from the book, Wild Feminine by Tammy Lynn Kent. This work invites us to dive deeply into our relationship with the unfettered feminine pole, reminding us of the personal power we can access and utilize when we come into right relationship with our wombs, pelvic floors, and reproductive organs. Whatever our personal decision regarding children; if we choose to have them, if we do not, or have not yet, if we are currently pregnant or recently birthed, our capacity to stand up fully in our creative energy is firmly rooted in claiming ourselves, finding our voices, and honoring the sacred feminine as it awakens in our lives.
Returning to the Mother Place
With five small bowls that fit neatly together, one inside the other I am teaching women about the power of the uterus. The largest bowl fits in the palm of my hand, and the smallest is the size of a pencil eraser. These bowls represent the way that the uterus holds energy and passes information from one generation to another. The women watch my hands as I align the bowls, one by one, according to their size.
I point to the smallest bowl, saying “This is you.” Slipping this tiny bowl into the next one I say, “You were held in your mother’s womb.” Placing the two bowls together into the next bowl I say, “Your mother’s eggs were fully formed while she was held in her mother’s body. In this way, you were also held in your grandmother’s womb.” I continue to join the bowls together, until the five are sitting in my palm, one inside the other. “Because your grandmother carries the energy of her mother’s and grandmother’s wombs, so you are linked to them as well.” The bowls rest neatly in my hand. The women sit squarely in front of me. I see each of them wrapped in layers of female energy from the women ancestors who came before them.
I set the bowls down. “Now this is you,” I tell them, pointing to the largest bowl. From the large bowl I lift the next bowl, which still holds three others. “This is one of your creations,” I say. One by one, I lift the smaller bowls and place each next to the bowl that served as its container. With each bowl, I tell the women, “This is the seed of one of your creations.” I continue until the five bowls, five generations, sit in a line. Each bowl is separate, but the action of lifting one bowl from the next illustrates their shared lineage, or line of descendants. “This is how your womb and the energy that you carry there influence all you create. That energy in your pelvic bowl is your mark on the future; this is your legacy of creation.” The room is silent as the women remember their mother place.
The Mother Place
The uterus is our direct connection to the sacred; the womb is a woman’s place for co-creating with spirit and mothering her creations. I have sat with many women as they rediscovered the mother place in their bodies and I have witnessed the grief and joy they associate with their creative essence. Every woman has a place in herself to mother from, regardless of whether or not she has given birth to a child. But many women close the door to their womb if they are unable to own the word mother.
To understand our collective ambivalence about ourselves as mothers, we need to look at those who come to inhabit that role by having a child. For example, when women come to my office, they fill out intake forms with a variety of medical and personal information, including their occupation. Sometimes mothers, who remain in the home as the primary caretakers for their children, but have no official work title, scoff at the notion of occupation and question what they could possibly write in that space. I was initially taken aback by this, and I have spent time thinking about why women who are mothers hesitate to claim the word/identity mother. Clearly, the predominant culture has not placed value on the role of mother. Still, each of these clients is keenly aware of how much they do each day in the name of motherhood. Each cherishes her child and their relationship. Yet, when putting pen to paper, mother is still not enough. In our reactions to the notion of mother, we see the work that remains to be done to reclaim the true essence of mothering.
Until women themselves value and honor mothering in all its forms, there is little chance that the cultural paradigms will change. Many women with children have come to respect the art of mothering, but they still need to internalize its value in order to be able to advocate for their needs when faced with external expectations and pressures to feel professional success. Likewise, mothers who work outside the home must hold their professional and mothering roles in equal measure. Mothering is a profoundly spiritual and creative process, yet remains unclaimed as such. I attended a women’s celebration where the female speakers listed their vocations: storyteller, healer, doctor, lawyer, teacher, musician, artist, and so on. Many of them were mothers, but the word mother never appeared.
I have often found that women who have not given birth or raised children typically disown their mothering capacity altogether. Some of these women hold unprocessed grief from a sense of unrealized potential, yet working with the grief in their center will ultimately restore full connection to their creative essence. Other women have chosen to direct their creative energies into other capacities besides having children, but typically still have deep conflicts about their mothering essence that will remain unresolved unless addressed with intention. For each woman, it is essential to recognize that her body craves the creative flow and sense of her soul unfolding that comes from working with this internal mothering capacity.
Women want to be valued for all aspects of our feminine selves and to live in ways that encourage us to nourish ourselves and the home fire, whether or not we have children. To accomplish this, we must reclaim the power of the word mother, and every woman must negotiate this mother-place terrain in order to fully cherish her creative essence. Unless she learns to celebrate her own potential for mothering, a woman will compromise her ability to gestate or sustain creations, perhaps settling for less than she truly is capable of creating.
Those of you who have participated in the Holistic Pregnancy course have explored some of the themes of this excerpt through exploration of the mother wound and Divine Mother archetype. What Ms. Kent shares in her work about the mother place is so significant because it illuminates how we each connect, though our lineages, into the seamless hole we experience as life.
There is an aphorism in the cultural community that speaks of us wearing the skins of our ancestors.
In truth, we are but the dust of the Earth, our bones draped with the skins of our ancestors.
And, as we live our lives, our children and their descendants will, ultimately, wear us. This deep knowing is quite important in this time because we are experiencing so much change so rapidly. It is imperative that we be able to lift ourselves up in celebration of our resiliency; our determination to be, to have maintained, to have persevered and reached this point in history (or her-story as it were.) It is vital for our continuance that we are able to access the wisdom of our great-grandmothers; we are them. They have, in essence folded in on themselves, recycling and reinventing themselves into the personalities that we experience as ourselves.
Our involvement in this community of women and families, through conversation, coursework, and birthing, demonstrates a commitment to honor ourselves and our lineages by doing bits of the cleanup work needing to be done. In this way, the traumas that our great-grandmothers, grandmothers, and mothers have experienced begin to break down and heal. As we project ourselves forward into our continued lineages, our children are not carrying these traumas and pains suffered by generations before. The work that we do in this community is to renew, strengthen, and share the wisdoms that have been gifted us by our ancestors. That is definitely worth celebrating as we take the best of ourselves, and gift wrap it for our children.
The Elements are your Birth Right
Finally, it is our desire to connect with the wisdom of our bloodlines that permissions us to access to that wisdom. Far too often we have stepped down from our thrones, swayed by the idea that we do not know enough, we have not been trained, or we are not ordained to engage in the rituals that allow recall of our own ancient practices. If this describes you, let this moment be the one where you throw off the shackles of external validation for, in truth, that is one of the monsters that sits behind much of the imbalance we are experiencing in the world today. Your clean heart, honest intention, and authentic request in the presence of Ether, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth is not something you need an external nod for. These elements exist within you, and you are in constant, divine co-creation with them, unfolding your experience of life. Acknowledging what feels loving and peaceful around you and constructing ways to enhance, duplicate, or increase those feelings is a wonderful place to begin. Making certain you take time to mindfully step outside each day and create a moment of gratitude for the warmth of the sun, or the colors of the earth will stoke the fires of your Creatress. Learn the names of your grandmothers. Uncover their stories. They are not so different from the you that exists now. Your courage to hear their voices of wisdom speak to you uncovers the path of healing that extends into the future. imperative and to awaken to the task of ushering in a new time starting with healing our relationship to self. Our prayer for this offering is that it may support the evolution of consciousness on this planet and contribute to creating beauty and wholeness for the future generations.
Beyond The Ring of Fire:
In session with a newborn Mama who was nearing 6 weeks postpartum, the topic of sex came up. After having had a rather large baby and a repair she felt (very appropriately) cautious about reengaging her partner and was seeking some input around how to best do that. Through our conversation we explored not only intimacy, but comfort, creativity, obligation, power, and self-determination. It seems the question around when it was “safe” to have sex again was an overlay for deeply rooted dynamics in the relationship that this Mama was called to face and sort before feeling fully invested in allowing entrance into her postpartum body.
Below is a reflection, inspired by that conversation, that may feel helpful or relevant for those of you navigating a similar space.
If you have recently given birth then you have engaged your root in intense, multifaceted, and productive work that resulted in miraculous change. In addition to establishing the care taking relationship you now have with your baby, it is vital to establish the relationship you have with yourself…but not the self you knew. This is a new woman whose old needs and desires have been transmutated. How we integrate our updated selves into our established relationships takes patience and grace; not unlike the energy we extend to our newborn babes as they discover themselves in the world.
Regardless of whether we are having our first or fifth baby, the unavoidable truth is that pregnancy is a period of change and transformation. We live in an overculture that is grossly opposed to change and thus, receive constant messaging about making “speedy returns to our pre-pregnant bodies.” Without question, aesthetics and media driven social norms are valued over actual core wellness, fitness, and health. This can present major challenges when it comes to Mama’s ability to accept change in her body. Media may show us celebrity moms who tummy tuck or have personal trainers working with them in their first weeks postpartum, but they fail to show the underbelly of these same behaviors; long term damage to the pelvic floor, subsequent physical and physiological challenges, as well as psycho-emotional interruptions in the bonding process.
How we observe and appreciate ourselves through the expansion and transformation of pregnancy lays a foundation for how we accept continuing changes during the time of postpartum. Framing birth as an event that takes place in the middle of a period that lasts roughly 18 months instead of the climactic end of nine months, gives time after the baby is born to move gradually from our full-moon bodies forward into our post-pregnancy form; as much time as it took to transform our pre-pregnant selves into birthing a baby. Acknowledging this can relieve us from the pressure to snap back days after pushing our babies out.
Feeling confidence in our bodies as they are (recognizing that they are AMAZING and have accomplished so much) can be hard when we hold rigid ideas of “what female bodies should be.” Often it is women themselves who hold fast to expectations established long before their pregnancies. What expectations can we have for our partners to honor and celebrate our Goddess bodies if we only find flaw in them? Taking personal time to acquaint oneself with our new contours, where new sensitivities have presented, and what is ‘good’ or ‘bad touch’ before engaging our partners uncovers valuable information we need to connect with self-confidence.
What does this mean? Begin by experiencing touch from an intentional space. Take a moment to notice where your feet touch the ground; where your bottom touches the surface you are seated on. When you hold your children, feel where your hands are placed on their bodies and how their bodies feel to your hands. Feel your hands when you wash them. Even becoming more aware of smells, and the sounds around you help to engage the sensory of your root. It is the root that has served as the anchor and generator of so much energy throughout the course of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, and it is this energy center that organizes our capacity to create our future experiences.
Even if it is just a few minutes a day, take time to fully connect with what you are feeling, allowing the feeling to cascade over and through you so that it permeates your body. As you assess the needs of your child/children and families, be certain to include yourself; get into the habit of checking in with yourself about what you need, what you are inspired to create, or what you are drawn to. Again, these questions help to clarify what is necessary for our own balance and experience of satisfaction and joy. Once you are clear about your needs, you can source yourself AND communicate your needs more effectively.
How does this enhance intimacy? Self- love and confidence are sexy! Many women express concern about the length of time they have been sexually unavailable to their partners and will push themselves to engage in penetrative sex before they truly feel ready. This can exacerbate feelings of imbalance, “i’ve lost ownership of my body” or “I’m all touched out”; common concerns after having a child. Most of us have framed sexual encounters through a masculine lens that discounts sex if it is not penetrative and does not lead to male climax. For many, postpartum presents an opportunity to rethink what lovemaking actually is. Most of us came to our partners having some ideas and desires about what we liked and what we wanted. Those ideas, in combination with our partners ideas and desires, created a culture around sensuality and sexuality that brought us to pregnancy. Redefining intimacy with your partner can be an empowering and satisfying journey that the two of you take together.
What thoughts and/or feelings come up as you read this piece? Have you experienced something similar? Perhaps you are navigating these thoughts and conversations with your beloved, or with yourself right now. You are not alone.
If you feel moved, please share your thoughts, questions, or any inspiration you may have regarding this topic with the EBR community. Email your responses to janeyne@elementalbirthrites
Support for one another strengthens us all!
Tapioca pudding seems like the ultimate throwback, doesn’t it? The image of grandma doling out small Tupperware containers of tapioca pudding so thick the ‘good’ spoons would stand straight up and down. While the Tupperware may have been suspect, the pudding in it was a strong indicator of grandma’s wisdom. Tapioca is a fantastic dietary choice for new Mama’s because of its capacity to boost the microbiome.
Fun facts about the microbiome: We know that every day, science reveals greater links between gut health (read: the health of your microbiome) and the body’s capacity to decrease inflammation and maintain vibrant mental health. We also know that vaginally born babies have intestinal microbiota that closely resemble the microbiota of their mother’s birth canal. These babies have been inoculated with maternal intestinal bacteria. The richness of this microbiotic cocktail is contingent upon how the mothers, themselves, were born. And Mama’s microbial diversity is fortified or diminished through (drumroll………..) her diet!
Our commitment to eating a diverse, well-balanced diet affects the health of our children AND our grandchildren! (Thanks Grandma!!)
Tapioca is the root of the tropical cassava plant that produces a fleshy, edible root stock. The root stock is collected and formed into “pearls”. Tapioca is naturally gelatinous and thus is soothing to the digestive tract and nervous system and has the added benefit of being an excellent PREBIOTIC for a healthy microbiome.
Not Your Grandma’s Tapioca Pudding
2 cups spring water OR oat milk OR raw organic milk
1/3 cup small or medium tapioca pearls
1 tsp Bliss Alchemy sweet spice mix
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp clove powder
dash of vanilla
honey, OR maple syrup to taste (Add after cooling)
Boil water/milk, turn to simmer and add tapioca pearls and spices. Simmer for 10-15 min or until soft. Cool and drizzle the desired amount of honey or add maple syrup. Enjoy!
Elemental Birth Rites would like to officially welcome the babies born in the last season into our community! We hold you up and uplift the Mamas and Papas that made you possible. And we pledge our support as a community of safety, presence, and wisdom to guide you into a beautiful future.