Sunday, November 27, 2011

#29 Meditative, Multi-Cultural Laborinths in Birth Rooms

Greetings Birth Peeps,

This is Thanksgiving weekend (in the US), and for me it was a particularly special, even magical and blessed one. All weekend I’ve wanted to reach out to each of you, Birth Peeps, to share my gratitude with you for our shared work together, even though I don’t know all of you (yet), I know we are drawn together by a shared dream.

Today I want to share a painting I’ve been working on. I began this painting with a goal to finish it in two weeks… because every painting I make seems to take four months. I worked each morning toward that goal. Two weeks later I had gotten no further than an under painting! I continued working. It is now at least two months out and, I am still tweaking!

This painting began with a story my friend and hairdresser, Alberto, told me about his tias (aunties) in Mexico who were parteras (midwives). They used to tell pregnant mothers that they were warriors because in labor they would have to go to the underworld and battle with underworld spirits who held their babies. Each mother alone had go there and battle with the spirits to free her baby and bring it back to this world, to its new family who was waiting for him or her.

Inspired by this birth warrior mythology I began this painting using acryclic paint. There are many symbols in this painting, but I will point out just a few. 

There are two worlds, an upper “natural world” and the labyrinth of birth, the underworld of labor, divided by a gold line. This gold line is how I draw contractions. Typically contractions have been depicted as hills (as shown on a fetal monitor), however, I found in labor that my attention went downward and deep within with each contraction—so I began drawing the contractions as downward dips. In this painting, at the peak of each contraction-dip, the mothers consciousness dips, trickles, pours, into the underworld…. then returns to her resting baseline.

You can see six “spirits” holding babies in Laborland, and a mother swimming out with a baby (top right of the labyrinth’s opening), and the Fire Keeper.
Last week I was frustrated because the colors in the labyrinth were flat, dull and dreary. I kept changing the colors over and over, still flat. Then about five nights ago I had a vivid dream that showed me what to do, which colors to use and how to add beads! I jumped out of bed, found my odd collection of beads, then mixed up the colors and went to work… a few hours later… Look, the labyrinth now is vibrant, expressing both the dark and light aspects of journeying in the underworld. I also added four shells and a gold pendant of Mary.

One of my visions of how I might help change birth in our culture is to make a series of beautiful multi-cultural, labyrinth meditation paintings (and eventually prints of those paintings) so that birth rooms everywhere will have LabOrinths for women to gaze upon, to trace with their eyes during contractions to help ease the pain and still the mind.

Perhaps like-minded Artists of the Spirit will join me in this endeavor.
In-Love, In-Gratitude,
and still tweaking this painting…



  1. Pam, I LOVE this painting! It just draws me in, deeply. I could gaze at it for hours. The labyrinth is so alive, so warm and inviting even, almost like a deep, rich heart, though an intense one. And the contraction dips - right on! Thank you for posting it. :-)

  2. Pam. We love you! What a beautiful painting.
    Just as long as it is ready for purchase at the retreat in May, I'll be happy, jaja :). Thank you so much for continuing to open yourself and share with us.

    In appreciation, Katherine in Mexico

  3. Dear Pam, thank you.
    Having just returned from a birth I can look upon this painting and reflect of the journey that I just witnessed. Not only are paintings like these a rich tapestry of possibility and reality for birthing mothers, the perhaps too can be part of my (our) post birth re-integration and self care, and letting go ritual.
    I'm inspired to paint in 2012!
    Happy New Year.

    Eila, doula in BC Canada

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