Today’s profile of Aileen Peterson, LMBT, CHD is part of our series profiling people who work with pregnancy, birth, or the postpartum period (prenatal massage therapists, childbirth educators, OB/GYNs, doulas, midwives, lactation consultants, labor & delivery nurses, pediatricians, etc.) and are Pagan or work with a Pagan community. Check out the previous Birth Guardian profiles. If you would like to be a part of the series please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Now here’s Aileen’s profile.
I am an artisan crafter, doula, and student of traditional/spiritual midwifery. I am a birth dancer and priestess, a keeper of the gates and guardian of mother-shamans. I offer an array of birth services (many of which can be provided long-distance) from prenatal, labor, and postpartum massage and doula support; pregnancy and labor photography; belly henna designs just for art or with magical properties (such as protection); crafting of personalized placenta bowls; fertility, pregnancy, and birth charms and talismans; dances for the different phases of pregnancy and childbirth; help with planning a placenta/post-partum and “wiccaning” ceremonies and everything in between. I offer my services to mothers and families of all religious preferences, sexual orientations, or age.
In what ways does Paganism affect your work?
As an Eclectic Pagan myself who is especially drawn to the more Primal magics of folk magic, shamanism, and also traditional witchcraft, my spirituality plays a key role in my life and what I want to be and offer as a birth attendant. Sexuality, birth, motherhood (and fatherhood) are key in Paganism and I want to help facilitate the coming-back of the traditional roots of birth back into the worlds of families and especially of Pagan families. I am a big advocate for traditional (sometimes referred to as “lay”) midwifery, and the archetype of the wise-woman who was sought for her knowledge of charms, healing plants, and skills in childbirth. I believe that a woman, when on the precipice of bringing a child into this world, becomes the archetypal Shaman, the Walker Between Worlds, with one foot in the world of the living and one in the foot of the ancestors. She is Goddess at the moment of conception, during the prenatal time, during birth, and when she places her baby to her breast for the first time. The father is the God, primal and protective, and I think that in this New Age of trying to bring the Feminine back into the world, we are losing our Masculine, and I know that He plays as much a role in pregnancy and birth as She and both need to be honored. My goal is to help bring more pagan-like birth traditions into the world, and offer it to the pagan families, and those who may not be Pagan, who seek the spiritual side of birth and crave those experiences that help tap us into the Divine.
How can we honor what is sacred in childbearing?
I believe that both the Divine Mother and Divine Father should be honored in pregnancy and birth. They both play key parts and are sacred to birth. Honoring the mother and respecting her role as mother-goddess and mother-shaman, during the act of giving birth especially, is important and vital. Allowing the mother to feel empowered and capable instead of weak or suppressed in her ability as a woman and a mother to bring her child into the world and teaching her partner to do so also, as well as respecting and honoring the partner, is key. Bringing back the rituals, the rites of passage of womanhood and childbirth, making the charms and performing the spells, dancing the dance of birth to ease her transitions, these are the things that are sacred and need to be done to help bring sacredness back to Birth and back to the Family.
If you could tell Pagans one thing about pregnancy or birth, what would it be?
“All acts of love and pleasure are my rituals.” Our sexuality, the act of coming together as a couple to create (or even with the understanding if not the desire that creation may take place), pregnancy, and childbirth are about as sacred as sacred can get. Recognizing the divine acts involved will help us reconnect. We need to remember that our bodies are temples, our souls are gods, and we are capable of Creation and of crossing the Veil to bring another soul into this world and that is worth the honor and reverence that it deserves.
Find Aileen Peterson on the web: