Thursday, July 21, 2011


Dear Birth Peeps,
It's a long journey back! Let's continue crawling out of the underworld and watching the Story and Storyteller evolve.

The initiate has arrived at the Sixth Story Gate, the Gate positioned at the dividing line between the underworld and the upper world, between the undigested, chaotic material of the Ordeal and soon will begin to reap the benefits of the integration work well underway… This is the Revolving Door of the Victim and Judge.

When do we arrive at this Gate during the Return? In some way we could say we visit this Gate Daily, maybe several times a day! For this is the Gate of the archetypal Victim-Judge. These characters or voices are part of everyone’s makeup, so you will quickly recognize them.

The Victim says, “It’s not my fault,” or “There’s nothing I can do about it (it’s someone else’s fault).” She tries and tries to get it right, but doesn’t quite; she feels helpless and powerless to get her needs met.

The Judge is pictured carrying his "Book of Rules," he likes to tells us we should be different, or should have done it differently, or what to do to get it right next time. He is telling us to do more, be more, try harder. The Judge tells you you should be like someone else (and ironically, that someone else’s Judge is telling him/her they should be like you!) Allan said another name for the Judge is Liar because it is impossible to be someone else, and it’s not true that to be good or loveable that you have to “get it right.”

Try this: Listen in on your mind-chatter: First your Victim will try to explain why you can’t do something, or why it’s someone else's fault… Then, your Judge will answer, telling you what you could’ve or should’ve done, or what you must do—next time. Keep listening: Your Victim will answer the Judge, the Judge will should the Victim. And round and round they go…. Thus the Revolving Door!

This same conversation happens between people too, and it happens between birth storyteller and birth story listener or childbirth “teacher,” i.e., anybody who is advising a parent anytime, about anything, during the childbearing year. In this case both storyteller and story-listener go round and round in the Revolving Door, and both leave feeling “that did not go well,” or “she just doesn’t get it.”

I learned about the power of the ongoing dialog between the Victim-Judge when I studied the Toltec work with don Allan Hardman (in 2004). And after learning about this Revolving Door in my own mind, it began to change how I listened to stories, and how I taught others to listen to stories.

You will notice the Wolf Eyes behind and above the Revolving Door. Wolf Eyes represents the third potential voice, the archetypal Love Warrior. The Love Warrior (LW) does not enter the Revolving Door. Rather, LW continues to talk to both the Victim and Judge (part of the pantheon of Child archetypes) until, upon being heard, they can get ouyt of the Revolving Door and take the next step on the Journey.

* * *
You will notice a seated Greek figure holding a staff, and a dog, in the mandala frame gate. This is ASCLEPIUS who represents divine healing and healing through dream invocation. As legend has it, Asclepius was born by cesarean, at the last minute, when his mother was placed on the pyre. At the Sixth Gate and Seventh Gate, the storyteller is preparing to “dream a new dream” of her birth experience.

Asclepius is typically sculpted/pictured holding a staff wrapped with a single serpent. What do the staff and serpent symbolize? From Edelstein and Edlestein’s scholarly book and collection, Asclepius, the symbol is explained:

“Those who avail themselves of medical science undergo a process similar to the serpent in that they, as it were, grow young again after illness and slough off old age.” The Serpent here represents a sign of “attention,” because attention is required in medical treatment and healing. The Staff represents the same, and also that the Greek physician’s life was a long journey of healing… he walked far and wide to heal.

Sometimes Asclepius is shown with a Dog. I considered painting a “hunting dog” as a symbol for the hero’s journey, but I decided to paint an Aussie. Aussie’s are herders; we must herd our thoughts on this journey, or perhaps as elders/storylistener's we can help herd wondering initiates to make sure they are heading home to personal freedom after their Ordeal. (My “best friend,” Gracey, is a beautiful Aussie. I painted her in this mandala.)

Later in 50 Ways to Change Birth in Our Culture, we will catch up to Asclepius again as we explore a model of a healing sanctuary I am thinking about.

This week, Rahel, who was on Skype in the Birth Story Listening course, saw the painting and realized that it is bigger than she had imagined. It is 36" x 36", and the image I sent to you today is about 6" high.



  1. Pam,
    I needed this reminder today. My judge and victim have been screaming at one another lately and this was a good reminder to listen to the chatter for what it REALLY is. thank you

  2. This is exquisite food for the Soul, Pam. You have my attention even more here at gate 6, The Poetress and Gate 7.

    What comes up for me here, from my history as a first time mother and then again in learning to be a mother of two is that during the time of the Revolving Door a Mother is learning to care for an infant, or a toddler. So I remember, especially the first time, the revolving door of victim and judge about Being a Mother as well about the Birth. And the Birth Story and perception of self as Mother were developing together, fluid. Many new Mothers turn to the medical community to be sure they are getting it right with multiple visits to the pediatrician (or in my case calls to my midwife and reading Tons of parenting books) for external validation for what I was it ok? Am I doing this right (parenting), did I do well (at birth)? Am I a good mother? Victim and Judge.

    And then the turning to one's own mother, grandmother, aunts. Lots of judgement, advise, and help. A new Mother testing, gathering, seeking validation, hearing how she sounds as she talks about parenting and what she is saying and what others say back and how she feels about it. And sometimes I got approval and validation and at other times realizing that what they-- the doctor or elders say --wasn't working or didn't sound right or fit.

    Increasingly as the birth support people disappear, when alone with my child, at moments in the night and the hundreds of interactions during the day when alone at the revolving door hearing the victim and judge--I became agitated and rebellious against these voices.

    And then you describe the Poetress--she turns inward and closes ALL the books, and sometimes began to say (either to herself and maybe aloud to advise-givers) that this way or that way doesn't work, for me. This Phase is such a powerful place....and I began writing my own story of parenting and the Birth(s). Sometimes with childish rebellion and sometimes with Love. This phase you describe is so important. What if it doesnt' happen? Does one get forever trapped by listening to authority of others on life and birth with complete distrust in self? And how does that affect mothering and the birth legacy of generations to come?

    This is also a gate, as I remember from the times I've been there, of a Fear of Being Forgotten. When turning inward and listening within to a different kind of story the pause was a bit frightening. What if I AM those things that my judge says to me? What if they don't accept me back with this new story, with my own way of Parenting? What if they say I told you so? What if I am stuck in this revolving door forever? What if no one comes?
    It is hard then to let go of the need for external validation, affirmation and approval. Yet looking back--letting go allowed a deeper story, not staying in rebellion but in a a deeper synthesis of my experience and the social and medical.....


  3. Christy,
    Thanks so much for sharing your interpretation! I was able to relate your story to my own and your words helped me to let go a little bit of my own attachment to staying in the revolving door myself.
    Thank You!