Wise Woman Ezine with herbalist Susun Weed
May 2006
Volume 6 Number 5

What's Inside Wise Woman Herbal Ezine this Month...


Childbearing & Mothering ...
Abortion Trauma & Healing
by Jeannine Parvati Baker


A Spiritual- Feminist Midwife Speaking to the Unspeakable: ABORTION TRAUMA & HEALING

Resources for both Women & Men

by Jeannine Parvati Baker
Author of Conscious Conception

© July 2004, revised
(originally published in Conscious Conception, © 1986)

Conscious Conception as Informed Choice

"Conscious conception" means that we relate to every baby as a soul which is equally desired to be here by parents and community. Couples by their awareness of self, would know when ejaculation of semen would set a baby going or not. Ideally when babies were not needed by the couple as an expression of their love, none would be conceived.

Conscious conception is a peaceful and mindful alternative to an abortion culture.

We can put to rest the victim of fertility archetype which has been at best, the inspiration of great literature/tragedy for millennia, and at worst, has released much pain and suffering upon our Earth. We can become conscious of our capacity to co-create--as simple as knowing when one is hungry or thirsty, we can know when we are fertile and act in ways which are best-for-life.

the Art of Alishia ChristianThis natural knowing is aided by attention to not only our physical bodies and fertility
cycles, but our dreams and desires. What is emerging is the realization that fertility
awareness is a SOURCE experience, one which puts us in direct relationship with creative energy. By becoming conscious of our fertility, we become more creative.

It is our choice in what form we show the world our love--a baby is but one option.
Conscious conception transcends the pro-choice and pro-life polemic. Conscious
conception is both at once--simply stated, its instruction is to "Choose Life".

Pro Life-Choice

In the Beginning was the Sword, and the Sword was not with the Goddess.

A direct link to the holocaust of abortion is the carnage of hospital, medicated childbirth.

A woman who is delivered medically, cut and drugged, is more likely to repeat that
experience in some form again. She is used to opening up her legs to the knife already. An unwanted pregnancy with this past experience of pain in birth is enough to tip the scales towards death.

Whereas those of us who have given birth in dignity and yes, even ecstasy, are less likely to fear birth and make our choice for life when faced with an untimely pregnancy.

When is a baby a person--at conception or later on in its gestation? To answer this
question, I posit the idea that the more consciousness you give an embryo, and the sooner you say it is a person, the more consciousness and full personhood you are yourself.

This is the last chapter I have left to write in our book. I have started it several times but couldn't bring myself to finish it. A major portion of it was even lost to technology when the computer disk was accidentally erased! In fact, this chapter was begun 15 years ago [1971] --one of the first of many files to grow over the years--awaiting its inclusion into the body of Conscious Conception.

Realizing that the essence of abortion is avoidance and incompleteness hasn't helped to finish this chapter. It is in the zeitgeist. This issue goes far beyond personal

I have witnessed abortion become legal and accessible to a degree our foremothers barely imagined. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why this is my last word in Conscious Conception. I had to watch the trend in our society and the reactions to this legalization. (If it's legal, it must be moral!?!)

Recently, out of desperation, those against abortion have been bombing clinics where this occurs. Response from almost all the country has been outrage. How can violence ever heal? As Hygieia says, "the wound reveals the cure." So let us look honestly at the complex issues involved....

If only all young people were instructed in conscious conception before they became
sexually active, my inner idealist wonders, we would not be pushed up against this
violence breeding violence. Many others have also grappled with the complexities of
abortion from numerous perspectives. What could there be left to write about abortion which is not already said and beaten dead to the ground in rhetoric? Only my personal experience.

the Art of Alishia ChristianI know it is my choice to take courage and see where the material will lead me. Yet I
panic, sensing that I am not well enough "prepared" to tackle such an important topic. Is this how parents feel considering an abortion? This feeling of inadequacy can be
debilitating and devastating to the ego-ruled life.

Before I first published my book Prenatal Yoga in 1974, I was sure in myself that abortion was "missing the mark" in my own journey as a fertile, spiritual being. I knew that I wouldn't consider it as an option for myself. So I took the precautions I then thought necessary and used contraceptives--not realizing that I ran an even greater risk of pregnancy with those technological tools than if I had then known fertility awareness. And some forms of contraceptives are actually hidden abortifacients. I was just beginning my heterosexual experience and trusted technology to deliver me from unwanted pregnancy.

Then I had an experience which radically changed my ignorant trust.

I was raped. I had to confront the possibility of carrying and birthing a baby whose
beginning was less than auspicious. Throughout the crisis, my belief in the sanctity of life strengthened and I understood that any baby coming from rape was not to be blamed or killed because of my ideals. I wasn't even married, nor did I have a means of support for a child, yet I trusted that life itself was more precious than these most real, material concerns.

For over a month I waited, unsure of my fate. When I eventually began menstruating,it
was with profound relief. Looking back I now realize that this experience, as horrible as it was, was given to me to build my conviction and maintain full credibility as a guardian of life. My path has led me to be a midwife and healer and with integrity I took the vow to "Do No Harm" fully to heart.

However, when I published Hygieia: A Woman's Herbal in 1978, I was swayed by the "pro-choice" movement and felt I shouldn't impose my feelings for the sanctity of life upon my sisters. The best I could do would be to set an example of harmlessness. I consciously conceived my children and learned fertility awareness and taught many others in this art.

As I had a women's health counseling practice, the issue of abortion was brought to me many times. I didn't judge--intuiting that judgment was not my place. Instead I would facilitate the woman considering an abortion to explore all her motives for abortion and encourage her to be honest with herself. I couldn't bring myself to share herbal formulas to abort babies but I did initially support women giving themselves a psychic abortion, i.e., mentally, prayerfully asking the baby to leave if "untimely."

By far the most phone calls I have received anonymously were from women who sought herbal abortifacient advice. They had dramatic justifications for their need to abort yet a cautionary daemon within my soul forbade me instructing women in how to terminate their babies.

Eventually I became aware that I was a silent partner with death by not stating my
personal views more emphatically.

After the publication of Hygieia, I received numerous letters from people who called
themselves "right-to-lifers" and at first thought them obnoxious. They sent me photos of macerated fetuses which revolted me. Then I became acquainted with an intelligent
movement called "Feminists for Life" and carefully read their information. Their
compassionate logic convinced me.

I revised the section on emmenagogues (herbs to bring on suppressed menses) and added that my intention was to support life and not to encourage abortion. I consider any embryo a human being no matter how new. Most certainly a baby does not care what medical science deems "human life"--it is what it is--alive.

My career in midwifery led me to another perspective on the "witch hunts" of the Middle Ages and their relation to present day legal problems of midwifery. I knew from studying herstorical texts that "witches" were wise women, the healers and midwives of their communities. They were systematically murdered and suppressed to the point that the average school-girl nowadays does not even know what a midwife is. But she does know what a witch is--an "evil and ugly"--woman.

So I set about teaching workshops in womancraft to restore our lost gnosis as healers of families. In my travels and teaching tours I have met many midwives who have forgotten the lessons of the past. Instead of being the harmless guardians of life, they also counsel women to use abortifacients. I intuit that this is one of the reasons why women healers were so feared--not only because of an unjustified patriarchal paranoia of the feminine, but because "wise women" or "wicca" in the dark ages also shared the secrets of abortion. Prescribing abortion, whether "do-it-yourself" or otherwise is perpetuating the "dark ages" to this day.

An abortion happens in the US every minute. The blood on the hands of the doctors and the midwives is upon us all. I am through being death's silent partner.

The American Indians said that women would have trouble birthing babies and becoming pregnant when mankind landed on the Moon. They also said that our country is in so much trouble because we have lost the ceremonies which heal us and bring dignity to Mother Earth. By extension, fertile women like Mother Earth are in trouble by our loss of reverence for the childbearing ceremony. How can we wonder that so many parents are infertile and births are problematic when millions of fetuses are being aborted all around us? Are our babies afraid to come to us when our culture is so irreverent of life?

If you are infertile and wanting to change your condition, may I suggest you put some of your energies while "waiting" for your own baby into saving other babies' lives. This will be healing the future.

Furthermore, let us heal the past by honoring our ancestors. By respecting our past, our parentage, we are healing the present and opening up more possibility of being a
respected parent ourselves in the near future.

Along those lines, I recall a story my mother shared with me when coming onto my
puberty. She told me that my paternal grandmother on her deathbed was quite frightened of dying. She confessed to my mother, who attended her passing, that she was "afraid to meet all her dead babies on the other side." It seems Grandma had induced several abortions which were secrets kept from family and friends alike. At death's door, Grandma confronted her previous liaisons with mortality and murder, carrying this hidden fear for years.

That story made a strong impression on me, as I had been taught through the popular
"planned parenthood" information materials that abortion was more like a tooth extraction than murder: A little painful, but not such a moral crisis. How could this be true when Grandma carried that guilt all her life? I couldn't imagine similarly repenting my dentistry operations upon my deathbed.

I once asked a "New Age" doctor who was involved in the holistic home-birth movement what it felt like to perform abortions. He had previously told me that he was just a "detached vehicle" for the operation and thought his work decidedly feminist as he was supporting the woman's freedom of choice. I countered with the argument that to be totally "non-attached" is a task for a lifetime and perhaps not even preferable. Also that his karma, if any ego was involved, would reap negative fruit....But what does it feel like to perform one, I asked? "Crunchy" was his response....

It is our disgrace that we tacitly or overtly support abortion under the guise of "freedom of choice." It smokescreens the glaring inadequacies of a culture out of balance with the feminine, life-sustaining powers. It masks the blight of poverty in a society where so many make do with too much, and far more don't have enough. It strengthens our anti-child attitudes and builds up the cult of the ego. Abortion serves primarily the industry which performs it. It doesn't necessarily build self-esteem in the aborting mothers or make them feel more powerful for exercising "freedom of choice." Abortion lets a little more bondage into our culture--those chains which limit our freedoms. And it most certainly makes for the ultimate oppression of the most vulnerable members of our world, the unborn. It is like total identification with the aggressor--for millennia women have been oppressed and now that we are beginning to change that, we in turn oppress an even lower class of people, children. The etymology of "fetus" is unborn child.

To amplify these particular issues of abortion--oppression--recall how you feel when
hearing about child abuse. How horrified are we that anyone would violently harm a
baby, or sexually abuse a young child. Yet isn't abortion the ultimate sexual abuse of not only children, but their mothers as well? "How can I open up my legs to death?" my friend asked herself when, upon my suggestion, she fantasized in detail the abortion she felt she must have. (She chose to single parent the baby and at last report, has even healed her relationship with the father to the extent that he was present at the homebirth and is now actively involved in co-parenting their baby!)

Now extend that feeling of horror at child abuse into the invisible world. Just because a baby isn't seen and can't be heard doesn't make its pain any less real.There is ample evidence that babies feel and that unborn babies, even embryos feel pain.

The invisible world, the essence and spirit of existence is sacrificed in abortion for the more material concerns; an old, decidedly un-feminist way of being in the world which amplifies separatist thinking. The feminine celebrates spirit as material and material as spiritual. We have direct access to this through co-creation of new life. Destroying one destroys the other as in truth they are one in the same....

To extend this insight in the other direction, imagine what our culture would be like if
abortion was sanctioned up to the age of five years extra-gestationally. In other words, what if infanticide was legal? Suppose we gave parents the "freedom of choice" to decide if they wanted the responsibility of raising their child for the first five years of extra-uterine life? This is absurd, of course, but just the point I am trying to make. For a society who has reverence for life, abortion is absurd as well.

Here is where carnivorism is related to abortion. It is a very old idea that killing animals creates humans less sensitive to other vulnerable forms of life, like children, and embryos. We can never replace what God has put here on Earth. Taking a life, no matter what the form, is playing God, imitating perhaps the least understood aspect of the Lord's power over us all. And in any case, killing isn't the same as dying....

Abortion transcends the issue of right and wrong. It seems to be a situation where an
either/or choice is being made. By emphasizing this polarity, we can use this paradox of abortion seeming right for the mother, but wrong for the baby (and vice versa) as a
springboard for a creative solution. All it takes is turning towards life, rather than death. Conscious Conception is our attempt to heal that duality in awareness by making every baby a wanted baby. Conscious conception is pro-life and pro-choice....

Pro-choice and Pro-life are not mutually exclusive opposites. The feminist ideal of
reproductive rights is appropriate within the medical technocracy where women have
traditionally been treated mechanically. Vis-a-vis most doctors, "pro-choice" is an
important concept. However within the larger picture of the universe, "pro-life" is more appropriate and inclusive of feminist ideals.

"I've had to carry that abortion around all these years--now I would say that I'd rather
have carried a living child instead. Someone to bring me wonder and joy rather than guilt and remorse in my bleaker times (a morbid curiosity in my better moments)--I have this profound sense of missing someone special in my life most all the time. I wonder who that aborted child would be now."

the Art of Alishia ChristianThe above quote came at the end of a ritual I created called "Healing Abortion" (see
below). The woman spoke deliberately, in a composed manner. She had cried along
listening to many abortion stories but when it came her turn to share, she "kept it
together" as a paradigm of resolved feelings about her own experience. I was impressed with her summation and that her rational mind had come to this conclusion. There can be healing for our past regrets....

Healing Abortion Ritual: A Community Resource

Preparation: Invite all who attend to place in the center of the ritual site their power
objects (medicine bags, special pieces of jewelry, crystals, totems, etc.)

This ritual is for all of us--those who have heard about, seen, and/or experienced
abortion. The purpose is to heal our personal and collective experience of abortion.

All those who have not had an abortion, not even witnessed one in person, are the
"EARS." They form the outer circle.

All present that have seen an abortion yet not had one are the "EYES" and come into the middle, forming the second circle.

Lastly all who had an abortion come into the center to form the inner circle. They are the "HEART."

We ask everyone's agreement to seal us all in a sacred space together. If appropriate, a prayer is offered asking for healing. A trust is made amongst the participants to let
whatever happens in this circle stay here and not be shared outside of the ritual with
reference to the specific individuals. Confidentiality is vital for this trust. Anyone not
willing to keep this trust is asked to leave. At this point when all have found their
appropriate places and agreed, we close the circle.

Next sing sentimental and power songs to set a sharing mood. Depending on the group, "OM-ing" may be appropriate. I usually try to make "Rock-a-bye baby" the last song we sing before the stories begin..."and down will come baby, cradle and all."

Beginning in the center circle, one by one, each tell their personal experience with
abortion. A power object is given to one person in the center circle to begin the sharing. The inner circle is counseled to speak "from the HEART, as a HEART." When finished with the story, the power object is passed to the next person to begin their story. A good power object is a box of tissues for much crying occurs as the HEART spekas. Needless to say, men as well as women can participate who have had an abortion. Even though a man's body is not so obviously involved, it really is. It is his sperm and his baby which were aborted. Sister circles are more common, however.

After the center circle has spoken the middle circle passes the power object and each
person in turn tells their story of witnessing an abortion. This is where "health
professionals" share their experiences as well as patient advocates and friends who
accompany sisters into the abortion clinic. The focus is on what one saw, and the "fair
witness" is urged to speak honestly about the full range of feelings and thoughts evoked during the abortion.

Third, the outer circle now speaks and shares what each heard during this ritual. The
feelings and thoughts brought up by the ritual itself are expressed by the "EARS."
Summations are encouraged.

The ritual, if time permits, is made more powerful by bringing the power object to the
inner circle once more. Again the "HEART" is asked to tell its story. I am always amazed at how much deeper the participants go with the second telling of their experience. More details and fuller processing of the experiences come forth. Originally the ritual came to me with three full tellings as the goal for each circle. However rarely have we had enough time to go through the circles three times.

Toddlers and babies travel in and out of the circles. We image there being a
semi-permeable membrane around us to allow their passage. However, adults are asked to stay throughout the entire ritual. No comings and goings. Mothers with children are asked to have all their things with them in the circle that they might need to tend their children for the duration of the ritual. Allow at least 11/2 hours to go through once for a group of a dozen participants.

I have facilitated this ritual with small groups of a dozen and also larger groups of 200 or more! Intimacy can readily be created in these big groups with much singing at the
beginning and a passionate explanation of the importance of healing abortion in our
culture for us all.

Be prepared for there being a fair amount of crying from the babies and toddlers present during the stories. The young ones pick up on the emotions and express those sad and angry feelings easily. It is best to also make an agreement that each person present tend whatever toddler is nearest them if the child needs it. If a baby is crying a lot, the best help is for each adult to go inside their own primal space and soothe themselves. Say silently those things which calm. Comfort the children and comfort the adults as well.

When the last story has been shared, sing once again. Anyone who feels the spirit may
initiate their favorite song. End on a positive note with a healing song. Have a formal
closure by opening the circle with permission of the participants. Before you do, ask if
everyone is complete with this ritual. If not, process what needs to be done. Ground the energy, by prayer or some reminder of each one's divinity or spirit which has been healed by being here together. Encourage the participants to take this ritual to their own friendship circle and share it wherever they might live or travel. Each are seeds (eggs) which now carry the beginnings of healing to wherever our lives lead us. Always thank the local and universal divinities for the opportunity to gather for this healing purpose. Lastly, remind all who placed power objects to reclaim them and let them be spiritual carriers of this Healing Abortion Ritual home.

by Jeannine Parvati Baker
Author of Conscious Conception
© July 2004, revised
(originally published in Conscious Conception, © 1986)

Conscious Conception
Conscious Conception by Jeannine Parvati Baker
by Jeannine Parvati Baker is the comprehensive reference for fertility awareness. All natural methods of family planning, both ancient and current, are presented within the larger context of sexuality and an evolving spirituality, which embraces the religious wisdom traditions and goes beyond.

"This book is a beautiful, breath of fresh air! Ms. Baker is a goddess, and will thoroughly help you to see the goddess within yourself. What can I say about this lovely work of art? As you meditate through the words of this "bible", you will begin to cultivate a fertile self you never knew you had. I bought this book to help with my fertility problems, and it is wonderful in this aspect, but it is oh, so much more! Please read this book."

other Articles by Jeannine Parvati Baker
Shamanic Midwifery, Hands That Heal Birth part 1
Shamanic Midwifery, Hands That Heal Birth part 2

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Or order via mail: Ash Tree Publishing PO Box 64 Woodstock, NY 12498 include a check or money order for $29.95 (CONSCIOUS CONCEPTION retails for $25.00 plus $4.95 shipping)

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