“The job of the Birthkeepers is to pave the way for the Earthkeepers to come through. Get hooked up to the Earth Mother, connect with your intuition and trust it” Robin Lim
Last weekend I returned from Findhorn, to where there was an unusual exodus of birthkeepers for the Healthy Birth Healthy Earth Conference. I had long yearned to visit this fairy founded enigma and once I got beyond the odd appearance of the village with its tarmac road and 70s bungalows, I fell in love with it. The energy was SO bright and I have never felt the unseen realms so strongly in a place. For additional magic factor there were dolphins, sunsets over the hot tub, enchanted gardens where pixies stole my shoe, shooting stars like cartoon rockets and one night, a freak appearance of phosphorescence in the bay.
The conference was beautifully organised and held impeccably so that we built deep emotional safety and a collaborative vibe that allowed us all to ‘own it’ – a vital model for the new birthing paradigm. We were saturated with the generous presence of the elders of this field. True luminaries such as Michel Odent, Binnie A Dansby, Ray Castellino, Robie Davis Floyd, Elena Tonnetti-Vladimirova and Robin Grille. And also doulas and lay midwives, who brought indigenous wisdom learned from birthing women and passed down through generations.
I was most blown away by Robin Lim and found myself shivering or welling up with her every word and gesture. This incredible woman has set up free midwifery care for women in Ubud, Acheh and in disaster zones and trains 7000 midwives a year. What I took away from Robin’s profoundly heartful presence was a call to action from her fiery mission to shift the global birth culture. So much work to be done that there’s no space for birthworkers to take each other down. If we could all shine and give from such a loving place, our world would look very different in no time. And I remembered a longing to serve birth in a way that really matters.
I was also blessed to sit with indigenous midwife Ramiro, from Colombia, who is genetically both male and female, has an ancestral line of midwives in his family and has been supporting birth since he was a child. He says “Very few women understand the need to feed both their mouths” (points to mouth and genitals). His wisdom is that a woman must give birth for herself as a woman rather than as a mother, daughter, wife etc. We need to do it for ourselves rather than the baby or anyone else. Only from that place can we access the power required. I know this to be true for myself and have seen many times how women can become rigid and self sacrificing when they are doing it for the baby’s sake, or regress to girl status in the presence of their mother.
“I have a great pleasure for blood. I think if I hadn’t been a midwife I would have been an assassin.” Oh Ramiro I understand you too well on this one Brother. When you serve birth, it’s in you beyond reason. I know my ovaries twitch when I pierce a pack of mozzarella and the spurt of water reminds me of amniotic fluid. It’s on the edge of psychotic so yeah… birthkeeper or assassin, I feel ya. Ramiro described that women he works with listen to the song of their baby throughout pregnancy. When supporting birth we must respect the mother’s song otherwise our own song can damage hers. And I weep at the times I’ve stumbled over the years, learning exactly this, and hurt mothers through imposing my own song, or not quite getting theirs. I’m sorry, please forgive me, I love you, thank you.
I loved Ramiro’s reverence for and sheer delight in women. That is the energy of true service that is required for this work. He says “If a woman feels pleasure in all of her 9 orifices, everything around her thrives.” His consecration of birth, connecting it to the land was humbling. Birth keepers in Colombia catch a mucus plug in sacred cotton and return it to the source of a river to cleanse it. Blood from placenta is spilled onto stones, as spirit travels through blood. Meconium is buried in a cave or dark place to honour your darkness. Unlike the shadow avoidant West, traditional wisdom is that your dark side is really what you are and where your power lies. I quite agree.
I’m not sure yet how I’ll bring this inspiration home, but I know the more shamanic aspects have profoundly worked their way into my heart. And maybe I’ll do something crazy like pull my kids out of school and move to Bali to volunteer for Ibu Robin.
Learn more about Ramiro here https://elisaterrendotcom.wordpress.com/2016/05/20/ramiro-colombian-traditional-midwife/
And Robin Lim here, where you can donate to sustain her work http://www.bumisehatfoundation.org/