In this guide to consciously exploring the shamanic journey of pregnancy and parenthood, Anna Cariad-Barrett offers techniques and ceremonies to honor the transformation of becoming a parent and engage the sacred wisdom-keeper within. She provides tools and meditations to create personal shamanic medicine to support you and your family on this journey as well as connect with the wisdom of nature, expand your intuition, and explore altered states of consciousness. Restoring honour to the shadow side of parenthood, the author discusses the shamanic perspective on miscarriage, fertility, sexuality, postpartum stress and depression, blended families, and adoption as a form of birthing through the heart. She explains how to heal any deep psychic wounds from your birth family and transform negative beliefs you may hold about parenthood. She provides chapters on each trimester of pregnancy, offering specific teachings and techniques appropriate to each stage as well as conception, birth, and the postpartum period.
Welcoming a child into our lives is a creative process. Both death and life are key ingredients in creativity. Creativity is a dynamic process in which the duality of opposites is resolved in sacred union. As we reconcile the opposites within ourselves, a new spark of life, innovation, and new possibilities are formed. The conception of a child illuminates this principle beautifully. Within us, through a dynamic, sensual, lifefilled dance with the sacred other (our partner) we reconcile sperm and egg into something entirely new: the sacred child. Whether through our hearts or our bodies as we conceive, gestate, and birth the dream of our child into the world--this creative process is not all love, bliss, light, and life. It’s also dark at times, unknown, challenging, and full of endings and leave-takings.
Birthing the dream of parenting into reality is a substantive process that should not be overlooked or glossed over. Significant personal changes, questioning, and emotional processing are taking place--even for individuals who are positive and ready to become parents. As you prepare to open your heart and body as a sacred space for new life, it is essential to prepare and nourish the ground of your being--just as you do in your garden each year before planting. This is an excellent analogy for the time in which we are preparing to conceive--or plant the seeds of our children. By creating a conscious focus on our human development and growth, we can build a positive experience of preparation and transition. What steps do you need to take to prepare the ground of your psyche, heart, body, soul, home, relationship, career, and other facets of yourself?
When we expect fathers and mothers to remain in a constant state of bliss, we rob them of the full picture of what it means to be creative: opening and shifting within to build a supportive space for new life to take root. We also set ourselves up with artificial expectations of what it means to be a successful parent. We transform and change shape as human beings. It is necessary for us to update our priorities, evolving our sense of self, work, and purpose. We say goodbye to much of our free time, hobbies, old relationships, and the ability to keep things ordered and controlled. Our bodies, our sexuality, our relationships, our roles, our vocations transform. We make space within our psyches for new aspects of ourselves to be birthed: expanded patience, compassion, joy, flexibility, commitment, and devotion. We birth our unique mother and father essences. When we are tired, our backs are up against the wall, and we are looking into the eyes of our little one, we discover our heart now lives outside our bodies. We realize what really matters now and what doesn’t. We let go, we rebirth, we evolve, and we embrace the new.
In this culture we emphasize embracing all the new of parenting but forget to honor the conscious process of releasing that which is outmoded in our lives. As we prepare to become parents, it is highly supportive to create a space for a conscious process of acknowledging what we are choosing to say goodbye to in order to move forward into our dreams. What we need to release and what this process looks like is different for each person. It doesn’t make you a bad mother or father to grieve what is changing in your life. The fact that someone beautiful and amazing is coming into your life, and you are receiving the gift of becoming a parent, does not negate the reality that you are also experiencing huge personal change.
What are you dying to in order to birth your dreams? How can this process be intentional, conscious, honoring, and sacred? The more that you bring conscious awareness to what is changing form in your life, the better you are able to give yourself the support you need, creating a leave-taking filled with grace and integrity. If we refuse to acknowledge what is transforming within us, we can feel robbed of these parts of ourselves and project this outwardly onto our partners and children or internalize it as depression and low self-esteem. In order to fully embrace our children, our co-parents, and ourselves as parents, we need to honor that which we are letting go. We need to come to terms and make peace with the change we are experiencing. In this way, change becomes a process of positive evolution that empowers us, as opposed to a violation we resent. This is a key component for providing more comprehensive support for both parents during the postpartum period and first years of a baby’s life.
Ceremony for Consciously Rebirthing the Parent Heart
Create a sacred space for a simple ceremony that you design. Honor with gratitude the parts of your life that you are ready to release. Acknowledge the emotions that go along with this change. This could take the form of writing them down on pieces of paper and burning them in a fire. Many prairie ecosystems will only bloom once a wildfire has moved through. How can this be a conscious process of beauty that you co-create?
Then call in the new that is ready to bloom in your life: the new person, new love, evolving roles, and purpose. Speak into how you are rebirthing as a human being and the new capacity for love, life, and creation you are building within yourself. This could take the
form of taking the ashes from what you have let go and adding it to compost for a new blossoming plant that you place in the ground. The plant needs the foundation and nourishment of the composted ashes of the world to sustain and support it. Both are sacred and dance together in this human journey of the heart.
Anna Cariad-Barrett, DMin, is a psychospiritual counselor, shamanic minister, and teacher with degrees in shamanic psychospiritual studies, marriage and family therapy, and family social science. The coauthor of Sacred Medicine of Bee, Butterfly, Earthworm, and Spider, she is a faculty member at Venus Rising University and teaches workshops around the country. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“In a day and age where parents are pulled in so many directions, we forget the power and the wisdom within, the wisdom we were born with. Anna Cariad-Barrett reclaims this deep wisdom and reminds us that we are sacred beings. She supports the physical and emotional layers of becoming a parent--for the first or tenth time. Anna walks us through each trimester like no other book has done and provides simple tools to bring great abundance to our journey. She reminds us of the importance of being in a partnership and making our relationship a priority. This book is a must-read.”
– Sarah Longacre, founder and owner of Blooma, prenatal yoga instructor, and birth doula
“Whether you are pregnant, adopting, trying to get pregnant, or raising small children, single or with a partner, this book is a must-read! Anna Cariad-Barrett carefully articulates the issues and challenges you are facing and offers clear guidance on how to deal with them. Her information, stories, and guided visualizations are relevant regardless of your situation. I wish this book had been available when I was first pregnant and parenting young children.”
– Nicki Scully, author of Sekhmet: Transformation in the Belly of the Goddess
“Anna Cariad-Barrett’s book is an essential companion for anyone on the transformational journey of creation, whether birthing a baby, a family, or one’s self. By connecting us with the wisdom of nature and our inner knowing, she has taken the journey to a whole other dimension. A must-read for childbirth and parenting education if we are to secure a better future for humanity.”
– Thea Summer Deer, author of Wisdom of the Plant Devas
“A beautiful book about the powerful transformation process that takes place when one sets out to become a parent. Anna Cariad-Barrett weaves the often overlooked sorrows of the journey, including pregnancy loss and pregnancy after loss, with the joys that are imprinted into an individual’s identity as a parent.”
– Lindsey M. Henke, MSW, LICSW, founder of Pregnancy After Loss Support
“To birth and raise a child in today’s world may be one of the greatest of initiations. Anna Cariad-Barrett has created a wonderful book, exploring the soul contract between the spirits of an incoming child and its parents. This book is a thoughtful psychospiritual guide that will assist in your personal transformation.”
– Hank Wesselman, Ph.D., anthropologist, author of The Re-Enchantment
“Anna Cariad-Barrett beautifully writes about the joys and challenges of parenthood from a unique and refreshing perspective of shamanic initiation. She connects parenthood with a larger perspective of a spiritual journey through life. Reading this book brings ancient shamanic practices into everyday life, enhancing and empowering people to be joyful and effective parents!”
– Nita Gage, DSPS, MA, coauthor of Soul Whispering
“Anna Cariad-Barrett has written a profoundly important work for all parents, whether their child is yet to be born or is already alive at any age. Our culture has only weakly supported the most sacred of the rites of passage--birth. Many of our family traditions shared wisdom and positive experiences in raising a child; but many more could only pass down trauma and dysfunction to the next generation. This book is for anyone who wants to transform existing patterns in their own or the collective family and offers practical and spiritual exercises for assistance. Bravo, Anna, the children of the world thank you.”
– Kathryn W. Ravenwood, author of How to Create Sacred Water: A Guide to Rituals and Practices
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