I'm loving being a parent. The sight, smell, and sounds of my lovely boy fill me with pure joy and happiness. That's true, though it's also true that the first weeks of parenting are singularly challenging. He'll be seven weeks old on Saturday.
Labor was a harrowing rite of passage. "Initiation" seems like such a lilting, romantic idea, till you go through one. Hurts like hell.
When I began this blog nearly four years ago, I chose "Inanna" as a nom de blog because she seemed like an ancient Mama Goddess who didn't get a lot of air time (what did I know?). Also, I loved Talia Took's depiction of Innana in her aspect as a goddess of sexual love and fertility. Later, I felt a bit sheepish about my choice: "queen of heaven and earth" was meant as an ironic descriptor for little ol' me.
However, what you might know about Inanna is that her descent into the underworld is a paradigmatic rite of passage. Her initation involved giving up every claim to identity she had and all her worldly goods, abasing herself in front of her sister/shadow, the queen of the underworld, and having her corpse hung on a meat hook in hell. We might call it the mother of all initations.
Shortly after beginning this blog, I began studying astrology, and I learned that the Sabian symbol for my sun at Pisces 11 is "a group of serious-eyed, earnest-faced men are seeking illumination and are conducted into a massive sanctuary." The symbol for my conjunct north node, at Pisces 12, is "a convocation of the Lodge of Initiates has brought the earth's glorious souls in spirit to examine candidates." In other words, initiation is my raison d'etre, in this lifetime at least.
And so after a series of initations over these last several years, one fast upon the heels of another--mystery school initation, ordination, traveling to Turkey, ending my academic career, the illnesses that pointed the way out of academe, adopting my beloved dog Lugh, Lugh's death--I decided to become a mother, Goddess willing.
Labor was a dark door that I approached unwillingly but also with singular determination. I was wary and afraid, but I also believed in its necessity, its sacredness. There were times during my labor with Lucian when I thought, "this is the worst day of my life"--a thought I don't think I've had on any other day. The pain was unlike anything I've ever experienced, and the thought floated through my mind that childbirth is more physically challenging than war. ("Take that, you big, macho, patriarchal, death-fetishizing assholes," was the other part of that thought.)
I worked in a huge cauldron of warm water at home, surrounded by midwives, and I had the dream that I was reliving my own birth, my mother's labor. I screamed often, and worried the dog, though Adonis reports that my focus was inward and away. There was an abrupt break in the labor at transition; the baby's heartrate dropped and didn't recover, and my midwife made a quick decision to move us to the hospital, where Lucian was born four hours later, after I pushed him out myself under conditions that mostly felt hostile. But I was held by a large community saying prayers, meditating, visualizing, and making magic. The magic worked; more on that later.
At the end of labor, with a roar--his, mine, that of the people in the room--my sweet baby entered this life. Someone placed him on my chest. Adonis cried. And--forgive the cliche--I knew that that day was also the best day of my life.