Birth

Overcoming Denial Part 2

By Denise Colby

If we have been in deep denial about some aspect of our experience, the revelation of truth will at first be a painful one. Truth will make its entrance in ways that will seem quite disturbing—intrusive thoughts, nightmares, innocuous interactions producing strong emotions, or a general feeling that one is “not OK.” It is at this juncture that we come to a choice: we can stay in denial and find external reasons to justify our internal experience, numbing and modulating using whatever coping mechanisms we have, or we can claim our internal experience as something uniquely personal and get very curious about it.

There are many roads out of denial, but at some point we will have to choose to validate what our body and reactivity is saying over the story we’ve been telling ourselves. This breaking down of an old story — the acknowledgement that we’ve been telling ourselves a false story our whole lives — provides the crack where the light of truth can finally break through to our awareness.

The Great Feminine

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

The concept of a Great Feminine principle is common to many cultural and religious traditions. The icon of the Great Feminine is viewed in these traditions as the generator and caretaker of life. The images of the Great Feminine vary from tradition to tradition, but the values and qualities of these images are surprisingly consistent. Whatever her form, she is always considered a protector and guardian of life.

Who is Tara?

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

One of the oldest Stone Age artifacts that has been recovered is a small statue of a full-bodied woman carved from limestone. The statue was named the Woman of Willendorf, after the small village where it was found in southern Austria, and is estimated to be around thirty thousand years old. Many similar statues dating to the early Stone Age have been discovered throughout Europe and beyond. Expressions of the feminine have been found in the art, mythologies and spiritual practices of many ancient cultures, often represented in the form of female deities and goddesses.

Ancient images of Quan Yin, the goddess of mercy, have been found in China, Korea, Thailand and throughout southern Asia. Pachamama, the goddess of the Earth and time, has long been depicted in the traditions of the Andes Mountains of South America in stories and art. Long before Mary, the embodiment of the great feminine in Christianity, Middle Eastern and African cultures revered Isis, who presided over the other gods, life, and death. Images of Kunapipi and Eingana, the mother goddesses of the Australian aboriginal cultures, have been found in rock art dating back at least ten thousand years.

Mothering and Matriarchy

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

Matriarchal societies are organized by maternal priorities, meaning all members are cared for in a nurturing and supportive way. To create communities rooted in these values, both men and women must change their fundamental relationship to mothering and motherhood.This shift must go beyond the rhetoric of early feminists who decried the second-class position mothering placed on women, and who sought to liberate women from the prison of the culturally-defined institution of motherhood. Instead, we must recognize the power of motherhood independent of any cultural value systems where mothering becomes a pawn of dominance and ownership. To do this, we must understand how our inability to nurture ourselves and others has weakened us, both on a societal and an individual level.

Encountering the Great Mother in the Birth Environment

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

To understand the essence of the Great Mother, it is helpful to look to the earth. From the moment we are born until the moment we die, we are held in the earth’s embrace, and it has many valuable lessons to offer us about motherhood. The earth is abundant, nurturing, unyielding, and adapting. The Great Mother is the embodiment of these qualities, offering us tremendous teachings about the mutuality of experience in the natural world.

You can find the power of the Great Mother expressed in the many mother goddesses appearing in different cultures around the world — Pachamama in the Andes, Tara in the Himalayas, Quan Yin in China, Isis in ancient Egypt, and Hera, Thera and Athena in Greece and Rome. There is a widespread understanding among different cultures about the importance and necessity of being in alignment with the power of the Great Mother, not only to bring forth life but also to nurture life in a way that is beneficial for everyone.

Despite a lack of understanding about mothering and matriarchal priorities in the west, the power of the Great Mother is accessible to women in the modern time. By connecting with this power, women can sustain themselves no matter what is happening in their birth process. Women can use their connection with this power to receive guidance and to understand the deeper meaning of their experience.

Unexpected Pregnancy

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

Question: I’m pregnant and I’m having a hard time connecting to my child. I wasn’t planning on getting pregnant and I’m not sure how I feel about it. What can I do to feel more connected to my child?

Isa: First of all, there isn’t anything wrong with you if you don’t feel connected to your child right away. This is a huge moment in your life, and you need to give yourself all the time and space you need for this pregnancy to fully register for you.

If you can’t connect with your child immediately, it’s likely because you need to take time to explore the ways you’re going to change as you become a mother. In order to connect with your child, you first have to connect with yourself. If you don’t put your own emotional and physical needs first, it will be more difficult to connect. Focusing on yourself in this way is not selfish, but will actually be beneficial for your child.

When preparing for motherhood, it is essential to reflect on what being a mother means to you and to consider how having a child is going to affect your everyday life. I recommend looking at your own definition of “mother” and examining the way you were mothered. If you have been well-mothered, reflect on what values you might emulate as a mother for your child. If you were not mothered well, there may be places within you that need healing.

Safeguarding Birth, Invoking the Sacred

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

From the moment we are born until the moment we die, women are constantly engaged in the processes of creation, creativity, and change. For much of our lives, through our monthly cycles, our bodies create forms to prepare to receive new life, and if that new life is not received, a process of destruction of those forms takes place.

When we give birth, in the process of becoming a mother, our old sense of self as an independent being falls away, and, in defining ourselves, we include the needs of another in a very real and intimate way. As a woman goes into labor, however, the new definition of self as a mother who includes the identity of her child as part of her own self-identity has not quite gelled, and the old definition of self as a single, unitary being is challenged. As this challenge occurs, the power that was binding together the old form – the independent woman – is released. This power is then available to create the new form – the mother.

Upcoming Courses for Parents at Sacred Stream

Sacred Stream is committed to supporting parents in bringing greater consciousness into their relationships with their children, their partners, and themselves. All of our Empowered Living courses are designed to help you get the most from your everyday experience.  Several upcoming courses are especially helpful for parents.

Conscious Parenting will help you connect more deeply with your intentions and values as a parent and respond to whatever arises with greater self-understanding and grace. Tracking Spirit in the Birth Environment provides an opportunity to connect to powerful resources for giving birth or integrate the birth experience you already had. The Path of Service strongly connects you with your own needs and how to address them so that you can maintain your energy level while caring for others. And if you find, as you parent your children, that how you were parented is coming up as something you would like to understand better, Relationship and Karma will help you do that.

The Path of Service and Initiation

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

Thank you for inviting me here this evening to speak to you. I have known about your group for many years now, and I have always appreciated the efforts you have made to change the way women and families experience birth in the Bay Area.

I think it might be easy for us in the Bay Area to take the kind of resources and alternatives to birth that each of you provides for granted. But all we need to do is to listen to the news to understand how women’s reproductive rights are under siege both in this country and abroad.

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