Previously I have been discussing the princi-ples of spiritual mothering and addressing the problems in this area. So what are the solutions? I believe, to re-establish something long lost and of any lasting value, a broad-based movement needs to take hold, something which women own and maintain for themselves, something which binds us all and helps us all, old and young alike. Believe me, I do not intend to re-invent the wheel or propose a new political movement. What is needed already exists - it just needs promoting. And it needs lots of initiates!
The notion of spiritual midwifery is clearly beginning to re-emerge in Western culture. As society has become more and more technologi-cally based, many aspects of our lives have been reduced to purely physical functions. Childbirth especially has not escaped this rationalisation / de-mystification trend. In the process of focussing on what is happening in our bodies, much of the spiritual understanding of childbirth has been lost.
Birth and death are two of life's greatest spiritual mysteries. No amount of medical science will ever debunk the mystical nature of either. Attempts to de-spiritualise childbirth are not only impossible and foolish, but also dangerous.
Fantasy, illusion, myth, mystery, mysticism, metaphysics and spirit are all distinct but subtly different entities, and when it comes to matters of human reproduction and its phases of conception, pregnancy and birth, it is immensely important that we know how to discriminate accurately between them all. It is indeed good and necessary that as adults we do not believe in the fantasy that babies come from under cabbage leaves or are brought by the stork. It is good too that the old myth that a menstruating woman was too unclean to prepare food, and should be confined to bed for the duration of her menses has been exploded. It is good that the mystery of why some women are unable to conceive, no matter how hard they try, has been discovered by science to be a physiological or psychological flaw, rather than consider God's punishment for previous sins. However I do not consider it necessary, relevant, or even possible, that the modern sciences remove the inherent mystic, metaphysical or spiritual components from the process of procreation. Rather than taking sides in a debate over the material or spiritual nature of birth, it is yoga's approach, that
both aspects must be included for the whole nature of birth to be experienced.
So to understand the nature of spiritual midwifery, we need to get our terms clear for a start. It is extremely hard for anyone to give a complete and flawless definition for the term "spiritual". And that is the paradox, since the spiritual nature of something actually comprises a large element of the unspeakable. Dictionary definitions always define matters of spirit as opposite to those of matter, however I do not consider this correct. To me, the spiritual nature of any entity includes all its properties - its physical ones as well as its non-physical ones. All of matter, in its many manifestations, is spiritual too! In discovering the spiritual element in any event or thing, we do not need to exclude or denounce the physical aspects of it. It is only those who have not experienced the oneness of life's spirituality who insist on discriminating between the physical and non-physical compo-nents of spiritual.
A spiritual midwife is a person, usually a woman (but not necessarily, as I will explain later), whose primary purpose is to guide a woman on a journey of spiritual discovery - a voyage fuelled by her pregnancy, her giving birth, and her motherhood. Their purpose is to help you discover the wholeness of your self through the unique transformations that reproduction presents. She may or may not be your own mother, but she is very like your mother in the sense that she has the knowledge of what you will be going through. She will be leading you into childbirth so as to come out the other end with your own wisdom. Such a person may or may not be medically trained and, as strange as it may sound, they may or may not have had children of their own.
It is a glib understatement to say that preg-nancy is a time of great change in the life of a woman! When pregnant with your first child, you are unarguably taking a trip into the unknown. There is so much information, so many books and videos available on pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood. Theoretically, from all such sources, you can educate yourself about these events well in advance, but what will actually happen on the day in your particular circum-stances, can never be known through the information and experience of others.
To gain the most out of the opportunities this stage in her life affords, a woman should initiate a relationship with a spiritual midwife. If it is your first pregnancy, the chances are you will not be spurred into such an action until the realisation of pregnancy really hits home. If it is a subsequent pregnancy, then hopefully you will only have to dial the phone number of your midwife from the last time! You may