But integral to my understanding the source of our origin is the Numinous is that because we contain a spark of the Divine, our truest nature is Magnificent. We, as flawed and muddy humans don't always show up in that magnificent state. I think a lot of us spend most of our adult lives with that magnificent part of us whispering urgently to us, waving to us just in the corner of our sight. We become hungry for a return to it and if we find a way to do our work, we spend much of our time clearing away the debris left by our culture, lead on by peaks at our own numinosity, the memory of home, our own magnificence which we carry in our cells.
One of the places i have glimpsed my own numinous nature is in birth.
My story of my own birth was always told with a full sense of disaster - lucky to make it here at all. As a young woman I worked in a hospital where i did not see one normal (uninterrupted) birth. I thought disastrous and birth were synonymous. And probably would have carried that story with me for good if it wasn't for Vicki. I credit the possibility of another birthing paradigm to my darling Vicki who had had homebirths and was sane.
Because of her, i arrived pregnant and terrified at the local homebirth group. There i met local women and midwives who also appeared sane and believed birth to be an amazing and life enhancing experience. I voraciously read birth stories; funny, sad poignant and always tear-inducing, each one the story of an ordinary miracle. Not sugar coated but whole and nourishing. i fed my heart with these stories, antidoting the horror stories with these powerful stories of grace and guts until my understanding, bone deep, was that i too was capable of birthing my baby. Perhaps the antidoting was not quite strong enough -my first child was born in hospital... the fear and rules around slow cooked babies and my good girl/nurse paradigm lead me to have an induction which i believe set my daughter up for issues we are still unravelling today. My second, gloriously born in the front room at home (in a manner that still confounds my mother because the baby did not cry til about two hours after she was born when the midwife wanted to weigh and measure her and all she wanted to do was snuggle and my mother can't imagine how the babe was properly born unless she cried). Sacred and profane. The miracle in our front room.
This homebirth group wove together a community of women, some of whom are still my dearest friends after 14 years. This community fostered a belief that our bodies may be capable of miracles beyond that which we have been lead to believe. In fact i reconnected with one of these women after about 11 years on facebook (ironically enough) only two days ago and the sense of joy because of our shared experience is hard to describe. I am loyal to that community and continue contact via Facebook.
And there is the pivot for this story. Facebook.
Yesterday i saw an image that epitomised birth for me. Taken from above it is an image of a woman birthing her baby into water. Her tummy taut, her hands holding her babe's shoulders as they appear from the mother's body, babe, eyes open under the water, Dad's legs open making a diamond shape with Mum's, he looking down, holding the baby too. It was miraculous. It was soul filling. Shared with the Homebirth Aotearoa group the photo received a rush of support. From the comments women felt inspired and elated by the beauty of this photo and the obvious miracle in action the image captured.
This is what art and the archiving of images like this allows us to to... to hold visible the miraculous in life. To focus our attention on the fleeting beauty that is available to us and yet is all to readily swept away in a life of timetables and busyness. That image changed me. Reminded me of the numinous. Helped me stand alongside women before me and after me who remember their Divine spark in that moment, that process of birthing.
And Facebook banned me for 24 hours for posting it.
This image that is so powerfully about the profound and spiritual nature of one of the essential acts of being a human, which was in no way sexualised or denegrating, in fact it was uplifting in the most powerful of ways was banned.
An inspiring image of a woman was offensive apparently.
I am appalled that i live in a culture that demeans women. I am angered by the trivialising that happens to women. How frequently our images are used not with the purpose of expressing power but with the purpose of minimising via sexualisation. I am becoming more aware of how the depths of misogyny in our culture supports this way of robbing women of the common image of their power and yet... and yet this smacked me in the face with it.
Have an image of women in minimal clothing shoving their arse in camera (a la Nicki Minaj) and it is considered fashion or a statement of power.
Have an image of a woman in the nude but no genitalia or even full nipple showing in her most powerful life giving magnificence and it is obscene.
Our thinking is broken.
I DO NOT WANT TO BE PART OF THE PARADIGM THAT MAKES THAT OK.
By banning this image under the guise of decency standards, Facebook are fighting the wrong shadow. They are fighting the shadow that expresses the power and magnificence of the female body. Instead they could be fighting the shadow that claims the naked body is dirty. They are fighting the shadow that says somehow when women are able to birth as their bodies are designed to do they are destabilising, threatening, harming the structure of our society somehow. They are fighting the wrong shadow.
i claim my right as a woman of power to nourish myself with images. As someone who leans into the Jungian idea that image and symbol are the language of the Unconscious what better way is there to nourish our deepest truths than by powerful image? I claim my right to these images.
i claim the right to flood my senses and my world with images like this....
i claim my sovereign right as a woman to claim my magnificence in the face of whatever paradigm of powerlessness the patriarchy wants to proclaim.
I claim my right to view women as a powerful generative force in the world and that to remember that by claiming these images as the nourishment i need to keep antidoting myself from the pernicious insidious lie that women are weak and only sexual, i claim my truth and ground for my daughters and their daughters to flourish.
I claim my right to use these images to tell a new story about what is possible for me, just as the homebirth movement allowed me to do when i learned there was another birth possibility - that Doctors did not have to be present for my children to come earthside - i believe i can tell the story that women are powerful beyond measure and that any story to the contrary is based on fear.
I am not up for a discussion about birth choices. I am not up for a discussion about decency. I am roaring into the world about the wound that we keep making around womans' power and i will not shut up.
Tell me about what you know about being silenced about your power as a woman. Tell me your roar.