Tuesday, July 12, 2011
21 years ago when my children were born I realized that birthdays were a connection between parent and child. Every child birth is different and tells a story about the child and his/her parents. CT for example was born premature during a snowstorm by emergency cesarean. The morning of his birth I woke up from a dream, which literally told me: “Go to the hospital today is the day.” There was nothing wrong with me or the baby and I didn’t know how I would explain my impromptu visit to the maternity ward. Finally, I just got dressed and took the subway to the hospital. The last thing I wanted to do is disobey the dreaming. When I got to the hospital I decided to drop in at the pre-natal clinic. Since I’m diabetic I simply asked for a non-stress test. When they did the test they noticed that CT’s heart was in distress and sent me to the maternal ward. I was worried, but also incredibly appreciative towards my dreams. From there it moved quickly until he was born. CT’s birth story expressed a dream adventure, which had every detail meant for an action movie.
Every year after CT’s birth we tried through his birthday to remind him of his birth story. We obviously did the same with KT. The idea was to choose themes every year that would tell the story of their birth. I wanted them to get consciousness of themselves and their life story through their birthdays. I purposely and intentionally made of their day a gateway to their own power or medicine. The idea came from my Iroquois naming ceremony. LL an Iroquois teacher from Ontario did a naming ceremony at the Big Cove reserve in N.B. over a decade ago. I was fortunate enough to be a guest. At the ceremony there were a few families with their new born babies. I found it wonderful the way the elders found exactly the perfect names for these little ones just by listening to the child birth stories. Even my name fit me wonderfully.
For a while I was completely obsessed with learning more about the gestation and child birth process and how it affects the baby’s life story as well as the parents relationship to their child. For example I once heard a story about a woman who feared mice so badly that she somehow created a birth mark that looked exactly like a small mouse on her baby’s thigh. The child grew up and became fascinated about mice. During a sweat lodge this woman excitedly discovered that the mouse was her main totem. With this information she suddenly understood why her mother was constantly jealous and fearful of her. They had a difficult relationship. She was able to accept her mother’s limitations and let go of her resentment. This sweat lodge experience was incredibly healing for FD.
In some traditions it is believed that during the gestation period the baby’s soul actually travels by canoe from their world to our world, shore to shore. This journey is later repeated during the child’s incarnation. Like dreaming there’s a repetition of metaphors and these scenarios are etched with lessons, teachings, revelations, prophecies and healing. I’ve found through working with these stories along with my children that the stories even talk about past lives and show patterns that should be worked through and transformed. Stories of Creation can be amazingly helpful in self-discovery and great guidance towards self-emergence.
With both CT and KT I had dreamt about journeys by canoe. EC an elder, teacher and friend of mine explained that if I had these dreams it meant that my own soul had the memory of First Nation ancient creation stories. It made sense to me because often I dream in other languages and sometimes I even find the origin of some of the words I speak. Most every time it has been the Mic Mac language. In my case, it was my gestations, which synchronically lead me to explore deeper my Iroquois and Wabanaki ancestry. For example during the summer 1990 while I was pregnant with CT I participated in the Oka crisis. I seemed called to support this caused as if CT’s story depended on it. When you don’t live on a reservation it’s easy to disconnect from what goes on there and allow yourself to simply become a Westerner. I think we all do this. Unless we are tied to a strong cultural community, we often don’t explore the idea of culture at all. So many kids these days don’t even know about their ancestors and their stories. I understand the beauty of the melting pot concept but at the same time there wouldn’t be this beauty if at the bottom of the pot there wasn’t distinct four directions (yellow, red, black and white). I’m a strong believer in history and learning how not to repeat our same mistakes. It’s always made sense to me to explore the past and be more conscious of the part we play in our future.
I’ve always told my children that their birthday is my birthday as well. It’s the only day during the course of our life where we have no choice but to connect to the long line of people who came before us. For so many it brings up dysfunctional family issues. It’s hard to enjoy your birthday if you don’t get along with your parents or you’ve been apart from your family. On the other hand, it’s important to not forget that your story is bigger than what you imagine and it’s contained within your gestational journey from one World to another.
I often ask my children how they feel about the way they were brought up because it was obviously different than the upbringing of others around them. Each time they answer: “It’s badass cool!” I guess that’s a positive answer. ☺ I try to encourage parents to give their kids an heritage rather than just keep them entertained birthday to birthday. There’s nothing wrong with the balloons, the clowns, the magicians and the ponies; but we often forget that birthdays are more about umbilical cords, past lives, and family ties. A few years back a friend of the family told us that at every birthday one of her children would break a limb. It never failed. She enumerated each child (all four of them) and how they had broken an arm or leg, and at which birthday. It was kind of tragic. She told us that she feared birthdays now because it meant spending most of it at the emergency ward. We couldn’t help but laugh despite it all. What was even more amazing about the story was how 3 out of the 4 children were actually born with broken limbs. Caught in the birthing canal the doctor had to pull forcefully to get the babies out and each time it resulted into broken limbs. The children seemed to be repeating the story birthday to birthday.
When our friend asked us: “How do I stop the cycle?”
I suggested she explore their birthing stories: Hers and the one of her children. Both G and I have been trained to journey with clients into the dreaming and remember our canoe trip or the canoe trips of our children or ancestors. Once she surrendered to the experience she was quite impressed with what she found and most of all she was impressed with the simplicity of it. As it turned out the dreaming had suggested that she teach her children how to appropriately used their motor skills. Her kids were more spirit than body -- expressed the stories, and although that was beautiful to witness at times, it allowed too many weaknesses in the physical body. With a bit of research to identify synchronicities she was able to confirm the information. Eventually she got all of her kids enrolled in yoga classes and the following birthday were break free. For two of her kids this became a life changing experience so much so that one of them left home eventually to go study in Tibet.
Unfortunately most people don’t know what is hiding within their children’s birth stories. At birth, we all know that our babies are beautiful and incredibly special; but we don’t know to what extent they will develop this potential and emerge within their personal power. It’s a mystery. I’ve always believed that it’s our role as parents to guide our children and help them get access to their sacred circle. The more they know about themselves the more they’ll have the confidence to trust, to accept, to have courage and to act on what is theirs to act on… What is difficult as a parent is to master this role and be efficient in it. I always encourage moms and dads to reach out and get some resources. In Shamanism we initiate people to become healers, dreamers, firekeepers, shamans etc…. We believe that if individuals because strong on their personal wheel they’ll be strong in their daily living whatever they become: Accountants, carpenters etc…. and PARENTS.
I appreciated all of your good wishes on my birthday but like I said in the opening paragraph a part of me was uncomfortable. I asked myself the question for the first time in 46 years: Why?
Why do I harbor some unease when it comes to the way we celebrate our birthday? Most of it revolves around the idea of sacredness and meaning…. Taho!
P.S. This was the entry I was supposed to post before leaving for the Golden Workshop.