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Before we can understand the Birth Warrior Story, we must first know the archetypal Warrior. Who is the Warrior? What are the characteristics of the Love Warrior, the Birth Warrior?
The archetypal “Warrior” is often misunderstood. I’ve noticed that the mere mention of the word “warrior” can trigger instant resistance if the listener’s mind conjures up preconceived, oversimplified, negative associations with “war” or a destructive male force (e.g., a Hollywood “Rambo-like” character). Instead of trying to understand the archetype, these people often try to (get me to) rename this archetype with something more tame, nice or and Disney-sweet.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are those who barely hear my introduction of the archetypal “Love” Warrior before they turn this powerful archetype (enamored by the word “love”) into saccharine jargon befitting an emotional “cheerleader” or “savior” greeting card character. In general, sappy idealism about anything invokes simplistic, absolute, or dogmatic thinking and behavior (manifested by the Innocent, Magical, Victim or Judge Child archetypes).
So far I’ve given you hints about what the Warrior is not.
What does it look like when our Warrior is active?
I am challenged to describe the rich complexity of the Warrior in a brief blog. I will do my best, but will probably leave a little confusion.
In traditional societies, warriors must first learn patience and “seeing” to track and Hunt. When mothers prepare physically and mentally for labor, they are activating and cultivating their Huntress-Warrior qualities so that in the "battle" of labor/postpartum challenges, they are ready to use their skills in response to situations that arise.
Rather than having an attachment to a preconceived plan, when we are in our Warrior, our moment-to-moment action is guided by a deepest Question, such as, “What does this moment need?” This Question keeps the Warrior awake, ever-looking to “see” what needs to happen next, and then she does it. She takes care of business in the world and household, and she takes care of (rather than abandon) her “inner Child.”
When the Warrior archetype (healthy adult ego) is absent or asleep, we must defer to the Child archetypes to try to do make “adult” decisions, have “adult” conversations, and take actions that a child or Child not equipped to do. For example, just as (most) children are conditioned not to question or defy authority to avoid consequences, when an adult is in one her Child archetypes, she also cannot ask a big, busy doctor hard questions. This is why so many informed parents who are in their Child archetype will meekly nod their heads and do whatever the doctor says is best. The Child archetype cannot questions, or challenge or defy authority. But, later, when she is back in one of her “adult” archetypes is back on the “job”, the parent will muse over what happened, “Wow, I fell under the spell during that visit. I didn’t ask the questions I knew to ask, and that I meant to ask.”
The Warrior is the part of us that sees what needs to be done, and does it, but does nothing extra. The Warrior acts. She is deliberate. Whereas Child archetypes (Innocent, Magical, Victim, Judge) wait for others (with more knowledge, skill, power) to know what to do, to tell them what to do, or to act on their behalf. The Child archetypes act from the past, from habit-mind, in order to achieve a particular desired future.
Child archetypes can be impulsive; they also tend to engage in over-planning and strategizing trying to: get it right, please others, and achieve the outcome that will make them belong, be loved, be praised. Later, they use the outcome and the reactions/approval/disapproval of others to determine whether they “did the right thing,” whether they are “good,” “strong,” “worthy,” etc. This then leads to second-guessing, promising to get it right in the future, and moving the individual further from self-love and self-acceptance. You may already be able to see how this might not be helpful during the childbearing year.
But a Warrior neither lives in the past, nor strives for a specific kind of future. The Warrior is immersed in the moment. Naturally she draws from Knowledge gained from her past, but this is different from following Rules and Promises and Plans made in the past. A Warrior would never take a rigid "Battle Plan" into battle and try to get everyone to play their part so she will have it her way.
When we are in our Warrior, we are “awake,” aware, decisive. We are flexible, spontaneous, creative, AND at the same time, we are focused, with direction and purpose.
Toltec Master Allan Hardman defines the Love Warrior as one who “lives passionately without attachment to outcome.” This idea of being passionate without attachment to outcome is very difficult to grasp and it requires discipline to embody! But, it is the defining quality of a Warrior and worth cultivating, especially during the childbearing year.
Another defining quality of the Warrior is one who “sees” what needs to be done next and acts, doing only what needs to be done and nothing extra (and, of course, without attachment to outcome).
Now you are beginning to see how, by the time the Storyteller becomes a Warrior, she has “no story”?
A woman cannot be a Birth Warrior before her labor; she cannot even be a Birth Warrior in the midst of the intensity of birth. She is not a Birth Warrior (nor does she have a Birth Warrior Story) because she birthed "normally" or without drugs, or got everything on her birth plan. I hope you are beginning to see that to become a full-blooded Warrior, every woman must complete the Return and integrate her experience on every level.
I am enjoying your responses and enthusiasm about the birth as hero's journey entries. We are almost finished ...