Sunday, September 2, 2012

Response to Daniell about the Birth Huntress

 Dear Danielle and Birth Peeps,
The study of the archetypal patterns of our lives, our behaviors, and of the world adds depth and new dimension to how we experience our lives, birth--and how we share the meaning of birth with others. One of our readers is really taking up the study, thinking about the Birth Huntress. Danielle wrote, and I promised her a response on the blog because I think my answer will speak to others, too. 

It is very easy to confuse the Huntress archetype with the Gatherer, the part of us that gathers up bits of information and opinions and birth plans.... the Gatherer has an external perspective, her attention is turned outward, and she gathers from others exclusively. In this model, the Birth Huntress turns her attention inward, she is not hunting for what she wants in the world "out there," rather she is stalking her own mind, her beliefs, her patterns. There is no "killing" involved; hunger is sated when we "know ourselves."

Danielle wrote:
"As with a Huntress (perhaps this is just my own notion of what it i to Hunt) you have to be prepared for the beast you are chasing down to turn on you. And, as wild as it sounds, does Birth not often turn on us and become the very thing we are running from? Does the next step, the next surrender, the next question-to-be-answered not terrify enough that it feels as if it will grab us by our necks and we will indeed die from it"

Just as in the animal world a predator can easily become prey, in the psychic-spiritual world of personal growth, we too are both predator or prey depending on how we have learned to perceive and respond to life circumstances. Sometimes when we are caught by surprise, we don’t have time to make a conscious “choice” and we respond unconsciously, from instinct or habit, which means we may behave either as prey, or as predator. When it feels like someone or something "out there" has "grabbed us by the neck and we may die from it," we are in the Victim, helpless Child part of us, and it is this urgency to "wake up" that awakens the Huntress to seek power, awareness, patience, truth, and new ways of being.

To the degree we are developing our Huntress awareness skills daily, during ordinary times, that is non-threatening times, we are more able to draw on those skills under duress. Under threat is not really the time to cultivate our Huntress and awareness skills; under threat we will do whatever we have already learned or been conditioned by, and act without thinking it through.

". . .you have to be prepared for the beast you are chasing down to turn on you. And, as wild as it sounds, does Birth not often turn on us and become the very thing we are running from?"

In your present thinking, Danielle and perhaps other readers, you may be thinking of the predator being exclusively “out there.” In the archetypal model I am presenting to you, the Huntress (predator) turns her attention inward to stalk her habit-mind, the inner-predator and prey of negative and limiting beliefs, defined by what she is telling herself about herself, about life, and about what the situation means about her. This archetypal inner-Huntress is not going to be hunted by “birth” but she might be “taken down” by what she is telling herself about herself, the moment, the circumstances.

Danielle, and readers… in this model, in your own life, prenatal preparation or postpartum inquiry, the seeker must ask herself,  "From What am I running? How do I know to run, rather than stalk, study, fight, pounce?"

“Birth” is a word that contains many meanings, both literal and metaphorical. In one dream “birth” might be a beast, it could be symbolized by a force of nature, for example a weather pattern, or a physiological process. In our work we strive to be very specific about what exactly it is that we are drawn to, and why; what exactly it is we are trying to avoid, and why; and what exactly we might be inclined to run from, and why?

“…birth turning on us…” In my way of thinking, birth is. Life is. It arises in us and we in it—without separation.  When we do fall into subject-object thinking and perceiving, we then perceive “birth” “out there” –but how we see it is still a mirror of how we “see” and what we believe--within. So when we think of “birthing turn on us,” we create a split, a subject-object, victim-perpetrator, hunted-hunter split… which activates primarily victim-prey-Child energies within us in which we try to outrun something bigger than us, something that is coming after us. In this state of mind, we are no longer co-creators, we are not participants in the creation and the solution.

In labor, and in the daily process of life, death, and rebirth, we cannot run from “birth” but we can try to avoid a certain, particular thing that, if it happened, we would feel we failed, or we were weak, or we were not a good mother… or whatever negative self-belief our habit-mind comes up with (btw, none of these beliefs are true). “Birth” as an experience, no matter how grizzly, does not take us down. What takes us down the downward spiral is our own mind, our own stories about ourselves, what we should have done, what others should have done—or not done, how this event/outcome should not have happened if only this, if that. We confuse planning to avoid it in the future with the Huntress, but in fact this is the scared Child trying to control her future.

Danielle wrote: "If we set out on our Hunt with the deepest respect for the thing we wish to consume, our own Birth, and realize it will lead us where we are meant to go, when it turns on us, we may be able to adjust in a different way.. To release our control to it and allow it to, instead, devour us. Radiantly and on the hallowed ground of our own path."

So now you see the Huntress is not an informed health consumer (that is the Gatherer archetype). Information, planning, and deep beliefs or respect do not “lead us where we are meant to go.” Maybe we are not "meant" to be anywhere in particular, maybe we can’t know how or why we wind up in a particular spot at a particular moment. This is one of the Great Mysteries. It seems we have some say in it, at least some of the time, but then there is this unexplainable force that leads us, stalls us, detours our intention… and then the unexpected happens.

The Huntress is awake, a master of awareness. Even so, being human, we are limited in how far we can see, hear, smell, and feel. Nonetheless, she neither “releases control,” nor is she “in control” of the situation or outcome…. Danielle observed, “When we realize that the Huntress. . . never knows the outcome of her Hunt, not on the veld or Discovery shows of wild animals, and not in birth or in life. Rather, she is ever-practicing sensing, awareness, responsiveness or deliberate patience.

The Huntress is not “devoured.” (That might be Victim… I’ll have to think on this.) However, when we are one with our environment and hunger, when subject and object merge in those rare moments of human bliss and clarity, the Hunter as a separate ego dissolves and becomes the activity of the hunt.  She so becomes the prey she hunts she anticipates the prey’s next move. Do you see and feel the difference?
Hunting is deliberate, quiet, patient. I cannot say to you, lightly, "Happy Hunting," because true hunting stills and calms the emotional waves within, and yet there is no stagnation. True hunting or stalking of habit mind is utterly dynamic. It can be done on a meditation pillow or in a busy airport.  I sincerely wish for each and everyone of you the call of the Huntress that you will become a Master of Awareness.