NOTES FROM THE FIELD
What I Learned from Facilitating the Ceremonial Doulaship Immersion
We live under the looming shadow of the current crumbling system of patriarchy, where most women everywhere have been deeply conditioned by cultural, societal and familial standards to compete and be envious with one another, rather than to mutually support and uplift, to fear from a place of lack rather than love from a place of feeling abundant, and to covet and desire from a place of feeling insecure and scarce rather than to give, share and serve from the true inner knowing that we are always provided for. Living in such a harsh and arid spiritual climate, one’s feminine essence gets thirsty sometimes.
Women, do not despair. There is a moist, healing elixir available to us, which when imbibed with discernment, nourishes our inner essence. To gather together in circle, as has been done since time immemorial awakens and cultivates the remembrance of our true divine heritage. To reclaim our right to birth our children peacefully, without unwanted intervention and to support each other in doing so is a form of radical activism under the current system we are living in.
To be a birth keeper, is as intrinsic to our self sovereignty as is the knowledge of growing, foraging and creating our food and medicine, as is to be a healer so that your body and the bodies of those you love can experience health and be free from pain, as is to be a priestess, so that your spirit and the spirits of those you love can exist in peace and unbroken communion with Source. Women, these ancient practices are the elixir, which heals the wounds of patriarchy.
I want to share with you a few of the many pearls I gleaned while facilitating the Ceremonial Doulaship Immersion last month, as I am still basking in the afterglow of the deep nourishment I received. For those who may not know, 12 of us gathered from all over the world in counsel for 12 days at my sanctuary in the upper Peruvian Amazon to relearn and practice the Old Ways. We were initiated into the path of being a birth keeper, one who supports another woman through the initiatic rites of becoming a mother.
During the immersion I was flanked by two wise and experienced midwives, who imparted this transmission. To me, they represented the wings of Isis folding over my soul, protecting it with the wisdom and inner knowing of its true nature. One of these birth keepers I consider to be my dearest ally and a treasure to my family, she has helped my husband and I to bring our daughter safely into this realm. She is a devoted mother herself, a green witch, a servant of the Goddess, and midwife by her soul’s vocation, Sunshine Tresidder. The other is an elder from the jungles of Amazonia, who successfully received thousands of babies in these parts over the course of 50 years despite continued pressure and persecution from the conventional powers that be. I consider them both to be heroines in their own right. Through them, we were midwifed into being doulas.
As for me, my role in the immersion was and is a bit harder to define. While I shared techniques in folk medicine, Ayurveda, nutrition, bodywork and yoga, I consider the primary task I was entrusted with to be that of the ceremonialist and shamaness and to model what it means to truly hold space. For me, to hold space is both an art form and a sacred privilege. To hold space, one must embody the container. To do this effortlessly and without agenda means that the container must first be emptied of the conditionings, outdated belief systems, fears, confusions and ideologies that fill it. It is our eternal divine essence, which lies underneath these ephemeral layers, much like the lotus emerging from the mud, which defines our true power, grace and being. To discover this dear sisters, is an ongoing process and the primary focus of my life’s work as well as what I endeavored to transmit during the immersion.
There were several motifs that were woven into and throughout the immersion that continue to unfold their teachings in my life. One of the main themes we deepened into is that we as women embody the chalice. In fact, each of our wombs is the lost Holy Grail, the secret life-giving chalice of the Divine Mother. To hold space for oneself and one another is to embody the chalice: crystalline, clear spaciousness.
The immersion began with us in circle, sharing about our birth stories. There was a recurring theme of trauma that surfaced, of being taken too soon from our mothers, of our mothers being treated without respect at the hands of the conventional medical system, of our mothers being denied the right to experience their own birth process in a natural way and of interventions being forced upon them. We cried for one another. As each woman shared her story, she offered a small flask of water, collected from the land where she came from, into a clay vessel on our collective altar. This was our first exercise in holding space for one another, embodied by the vessel in front of us, which was holding an amalgam of the waters of each of our stories.
The recurrent theme of arriving into this sacred life feeling fear and separation emphasized the essential purpose for which we had gathered together in the first place: to become harbingers of change so profound and far reaching that it could reset the future course of our species and its survival. We each knew in our hearts that by holding space for a woman as she enters the birth labyrinth and ensuring that her child may arrive to Earth experiencing love and connection as the baseline frequency through which the nervous system and energetic body can attune itself, rather than fear and separation, is an act that truly has the power to shift our collective insatiable desire for war and domination to the realization that peace and unity are indeed possible and in fact our birth right and destiny. We know that the current course our species is on, in which our very survival is threatened, can be rewritten one birth at a time. This was why we had gathered.
So we spent 12 days in each other’s company, deepening into and reaffirming this truth within one another. We created altars, we cried together, we danced, we sang, we purged, we lay on the Earth together, we imbibed sacramental plant medicines, we communed together in waterfalls and in the inner sanctum of the temples of our own hearts within the darkness of the night, held by Mother Jungle. We studied the cervix, the cardinal fetal movements and stages of labor, lactogenesis, postpartum depression and mapped our fertility cycles. We made herbal medicines and gave each other bodywork. We attended post partum clients armed with nourishing homemade soups. We made art, talked story, shared ideas, dreams and visions, we bathed one another with aromatic plant and flower baths, we anointed each other, meditated and breathed as one pod. We prayed together in the most heartfelt way. We prayed for ourselves, our families, our communities, our sisters that we haven’t met, we prayed for the waters and the Earth and our children and their future that it may be abundant and safe. We prayed for you. We embodied the chalice. May you drink deep.
Aubrey Bamdad's body of work bridges the fields of Ayurveda, yoga and their corresponding Vedic technologies with traditional Amazonian medicine and the shamanic realms. She is a mother, writer, teacher and visionary, as well as an Ayurvedic practitioner, yogini, and contemporary vegetalista with decades of immersive experience in these respective wisdom traditions. She has founded and co-directs the Sacred Motherhood Blueprint, the Eleusinian Mystery Field School, Qori Inti Amazonian Herbals, for which she also formulates and creates their product lines and co-directs Yacumaman Sanctuary for Integral Shamanism with her husband Dionisio Santos. Aubrey is a sought-after and well-respected teacher the world over. Her approach to motherhood is completely unique to her and stems from her experiences, studies and the result of a life lived passionately and spontaneously.
If you enjoyed this blog, please check out our Musings pagefor other related topics from the Sacred Motherhood Blueprint. Our new course, Diet and Nutrition for Conscious Conception will be open for registration soon. If you know any women embarking on the path of Sacred Motherhood who are looking for guidance in nutritional preparation and practices for conception, this course is the most comprehensive of its kind!