The Pagan Health Survey on Pagan pregnancies

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Did you take The Pagan Health Survey last year?  The results of this survey were interesting for many reasons, including the little bit they tell us about how Pagans approach pregnancy and birth. Cultural anthropologist Kimberly Hedrick conducted the research using participant-observation, interviews, and an internet survey with 1,598 respondents.  She presented her results at the American Public Health Association conference in Denver, Colorado in fall of 2010 and the Pagan Studies … [Read more...]

Responding to Ina May: The sacred is multiple

Editor’s note: I asked some of our regular contributors to each respond to a quote from midwife and natural birth advocate Ina May Gaskin.  In her new book Birth Matters Gaskin wrote: Birth… matters because the journey through pregnancy and birth offers an irreplaceable way for women to explore their deepest selves – their minds, bodies, and nature… There is a sacred power in the innately feminine capacity of giving birth.  It is one of the elemental, continuing processes of nature … [Read more...]

Responding to Ina May: Not a universal experience

Editor’s note: I asked some of our regular contributors to each respond to a quote from midwife and natural birth advocate Ina May Gaskin.  In her new book Birth Matters Gaskin wrote: Birth… matters because the journey through pregnancy and birth offers an irreplaceable way for women to explore their deepest selves – their minds, bodies, and nature… There is a sacred power in the innately feminine capacity of giving birth.  It is one of the elemental, continuing processes of nature … [Read more...]

It’s a Girl!: Gender and Pagan Birthing

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I just got the word that I'll be making a presentation at the Pagan Alliance's 1st Annual Conference on Earth-Based, Nature-Centered, Polytheistic & Indigenous Faiths, 2011 Theme: Gender & Earth-Based Spiritualities.   The conference will be on Saturday, September 24 in San Francisco (the page linked to above has all the conference details, but the time of my presentation is going to change). My presentation will be It’s a Girl!: Gender and Pagan Birthing It’s a … [Read more...]

Review: Bless This Child

"Here, under my heart you'll keep till it's time for us to meet..." --Erica Mann Jong (33) Edward Searl is a Unitarian minister and the editor of Bless This Child: A Treasury of Poems, Quotations and Readings to Celebrate Birth.  He writes that the collection, "gives voice to the many hopes and wishes that accompany the arrival of a new child." (vii) These prayers, poems, and meditations are "culled from antiquity and from our contemporary world, written and spoken by parents, priests, … [Read more...]

What color is your pain? Magic for pregnant aches

By C. B. Cabeen Midway through the second trimester, my ribs started hurting around the bra line, like something was cutting into them.  It wasn't my bra's fault, though, because taking it off didn't help, and changing bras didn't help.  It messed with my ability to exercise and cook dinner, and after a few weeks I was sick of it.  I was even more sick of hearing myself talk about it. So many of the ways we describe pain are boring.  If I describe exactly where my ribs hurt, how much does … [Read more...]

How to make birth art

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Note: Were you inspired by Amy Swagman's birth mandalas yesterday? Read this short essay in which she describes how to start making birth art of your own. The state of mind you're in when you create artwork is the same state of mind you are in when you labor and birth.  It is a fluid, intuitive, timeless space where you accept everything as the whole and have a harder time reasoning, rationalizing and compartmentalizing.  By making lots of art during pregnancy you are practicing being in … [Read more...]

Birth mandalas

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  Pagan Families reader Sarah wrote to recommend Amy Swagman's Birth Art Mandalas.  I was stunned by them and immediately wrote Amy to ask if I could share them here.  She said yes! Making birth art can be a beautiful spiritual practice.  My partner and I made birth art when we took a Birthing From Within class to prepare for our daughter's birth and my God children got to paint all over my big round belly at our Blessing Way, but Amy takes birth art to a whole other level. Amy is a … [Read more...]

What’s in a Name?

by Kira Nuit Imagine one of your kid's friends at the door asking “can Floribunda come out to play?” Or, when young Floribunda gets into trouble, imagine how you might feel barking out, “Floribunda Oregano Sunbeam!” I've heard some names on the playground that I would not want to holler out my back door at suppertime. One of the first things confronting pregnant couples is what to name their baby. Throughout history we have bequeathed the names of our ancestors, named our children … [Read more...]

Spiritual practice in pregnancy

Note: This essay by Suus is a slightly revised reprint from Heart of the Witch.  Many of the practices described in this essay come from the Feri tradition. Recently one of my pagan friends complained on facebook that there is not a lot she could find around pagan pregnancy, so I guess it is about time I share my experiences, having gone through a pagan pregnancy myself. Is there any difference to a non-pagan pregnancy you might wonder? And I must say that I honestly don’t know, because … [Read more...]