Walking in the WombPosted: October 31, 2013 Filed under: Body, Creativity, Woman, Womb | Tags: Creativity, Feminism, Memoir, Nature, Spirituality, Travel, Women's Bodies, WPLongform 22 Comments
For years I didn’t give much thought to my womb. I knew it was the place in my body where babies grow, but since I wasn’t sure I even wanted kids, any information about the womb was on a “need to know later” basis.
It didn’t help that I grew up in a culture that instilled in me the fear that my life would be ruined if I ever got pregnant at the wrong time or with the wrong guy. The word “illegitimate” is still considered a huge stigma in the Philippines and there is no divorce.
I didn’t realize that by distancing myself from my body’s ability to conceive, I was disconnecting from my innate creatrix nature. Because of this I struggled to carry even “creative” babies to term—books I wanted to write, scripts I wanted to perform, plans for new business. I felt unable (and afraid) to “birth” them into the world.
It wasn’t until I started studying The Tantric Dance of Feminine Power™ and my teacher told me to “drop in” to my womb that I even found out where this is in my body. Not only did it take multiple tries before I was actually able to “drop in” to my womb (definitely a learned skill that I will write about in a future post), but I had to Google the word “womb” and look at anatomical drawings online so I could pinpoint its exact location.
When I finally did “drop in,” it felt like reentering an important part of my body I’d disowned. I’ve been working on deepening the connection to my womb ever since.
So when Anita, a local healer I met while on a visit to Hilo, Hawaii last month offered to take me and a few other women on a private tour of the womb cave of Pele, the Goddess of Fire, Lightning, and Volcanoes, I said yes. I was excited for the opportunity to physically enter a “uterus.” Our expedition took place on our last day in Hawaii.
There are five of us. We have spent the last ten days attending a retreat for artists, healers, and teachers. At a fire ceremony the night before, each of us threw into the flames paper on which we’d written down what we were ready to release in our lives. Pele is also known as the Goddess of Destruction, Creation, and Rebirth. Legend says she will give you what you wish for and “destroy” what you no longer want.
Huge rocks are the steps that we take down into the cave. When we reach the ground, several feet down, we are inside a wide lava tube. This is a nature-made tunnel through which molten rock used to flow. The air feels moist.
All around us there are hardened lava formations—some of them seem to glimmer silver under the glow of our flashlights. The way ahead is clear, as if nature intentionally paved a path between these igneous structures just for us. The tunnel takes us deeper, another twenty feet below the ground, until we see this:
In front of us is a giant female vulva made from lava rock. It even has a labia and a clitoris. Someone has left flowers on its clitoral hood.
“Offerings,” says Anita, “Couples and women come here to ask Pele to help them get pregnant.”
I bend down and feel the rock. It is cool and smooth but underneath the surface I can feel a thrumming, almost as if the vulva is pulsating with energy.
No one says anything for minutes. All of us, as if pulled by a giant magnet, have gathered around it.
A few years ago, I would have been terrified to even enter a place like this. I would have worried that just breathing the air would make me extra fertile. Now, there is so much that I want to create, to grow, to birth into the world. I want—I need—to be that fecund. We lay our offerings of flowers and fruit and I close my eyes.
My mother says that I refused to come out when she was pregnant with me. So she went to church, leaving flowers below the statue of the Virgin Mary and asked her for help. My mom went into labor a few hours later.
“We’ve got to keep going, ladies!” Anita, who is keeping track of time for us, gets up.
We follow her, careful to walk around a deep opening right in front of the vulva—Pele’s womb!—so we don’t fall in.
There are steps on the other side—a bunch of sharp rocks that happened to serendipitously pile themselves into a semi-orderly downward stack. Only my friend Marya and I are wearing sneakers so we are the ones to climb down.
When we get to the bottom, we flash our lights at the tall “uterine” walls surrounding us. Their “inner lining” is made of red and black hardened rock—the remains from the last time Pele “menstruated” lava.
Marya and I notice another opening at the other end of this cave. We forge ahead.
To enter, we have to bend down and climb through the hole. On the other side is another lava tube that turns into a long passageway that will surely drop us deeper into the underbelly of the earth.
It is still and silent in this inner cavern. It’s the kind of quiet that you experience inside an empty church.
As a child I used to pray to God to show himself to me, just so I could be certain that he was real. (Part of me was scared that if he ever did make an appearance this would either mean I had gone crazy or died.)
I can now tell you that I know for sure God does exists because I have seen Her. And her body, like all female bodies—like my body—is a creative force of nature.
“Are you ready?” Anita has come down to get us. It’s time to leave the womb and step out into the world.
“Yes!” We reply.
I’m finally ready.
*** All photos by Christina Richards
What are you ready to create in your life? Are there any limiting beliefs or ideas that you need to let go of to make this happen?
Beautiful telling of our sacred experience together. Thank you for your courage to speak out loud and publicly about your trepidations, this journey and the wisdom that comes from a willingness to go down deep into the fertile ground of your own body to touch and be touched by the magic and mystery of Pele. Jai Ma!
Thank you, Sandy!! Sometimes I get nervous pressing that “publish” button, which only means that I must. Thanks for being part of this adventure with me.
What an amazing experience! While in the provincial museum in Jengzhou, there was a beast motif–often horned-that was on everything. J’s mother and I talked about how it looked like a uterus and ovaries… Love that you made the connection between your detachment from your uterus and your inability to birth projects!
Thank you, Jacqueline! I’m really happy to hear that this realization of mine came through clearly–writing about this was part of solidifying that re-connection for me. Also, like you shared, It’s really fascinating how so much of our female sexuality can be found in so many old artifacts yet this often goes unnamed. And yes, it was really amazing to be in the “womb” with my eyes wide open this time around :).
Yes, an enlightening and well written event Ms. Diahan. Congrats!
Thank you! I’m glad you found it enlightening. It was definitely enlightening for me to live and write about.
Sounds like Pele’s womb was an amazing experience, you retell the story of your journey ‘within’ very beautifully. It’s amazing how the energy of such ancient natural spaces can help to feed your understanding of Self, and illuminate the significance of your own unique path. Seems like you were there just at the right time. 🙂
Thank you, Cat! Yes. It felt really sacred to be there. And thanks for what you said about the right time–sometimes it can feel like my “timing” in life is off when really the time might not just be “ripe” yet. That’s a lovely aha for my morning.
It’s very freeing to realise that everything in life really does happen when the time is ‘ripe’ :-).
Wonderful transfer of the womb paradigm (body to works of the creative mind to the site). It was in fact a giant magnet that pulled you to itself. I plan to write on this sometime: grounding. The earth itself is a source of life-giving free electrons that facilitate healing and yes, reproductive capacity, as it floods you through skin contact. So much more to say….I’ll leave it at that for now. I’m glad you got to share something so meaningful with us, Diahann.
Diana, that is so interesting. I did not know that about the earth- and the information explains and deepens the mystery of what can be found in the earth. I definitely think you should do a post on this topic… I don’t think a lot of people know. Thank you for “getting” me and my journey. Writing about this felt scarier than writing about the period, strangely enough. Your encouragement and insights are a huge support so thank you.
Writing about this felt scarier than writing about the period,
LOL. Your response made me laugh and relax about all of it-Thanks, Diana!
We should LOL at ourselves more often. 😉
Thank you, Sunday!!!! I’ve been a long time coming. 🙂
What an incredible experience with the inner being and getting in touch with the female spirit.Thank you for taking us with you on this magical journey.
Thanks for coming along, Patricia! It was really special to travel down to Pele’s womb with the other women and share the experience together.
I had such a hard time with painful periods, I tried to get a hysterectomy, but my doctor wouldn’t do it. I knew that pregnancy would destroy my plans for a career, and believed that abortion was life-threatening, which it probably was then and there.
How interesting to read your correlation between pregnancy and other creative endeavors. You got me thinking about the word fertility. This resembles the idea of the 2nd chakra being the womb/center of creativity. I love the energy in my 2nd chakra.
I never ever came anywhere close to imagining that I could ever enjoy having kids. What an enormous surprise to find myself enjoying my children. They and my husband and writing are my very favorite things.
I have come to see God as my co-creator. God makes nothing without collaboration, and we make nothing without God’s collaboration.
Thanks for all the conversation you are stimulating.
Thanks for sharing and conversing. I am so with you on the 2nd chakra/womb/creativity/fertility parallels. I really believe so much in the body mirrors/impacts our reality. I love that your husband and your children and your writing are your favorite things. I feel that way about my boyfriend and my writing- no kids yet!
A wonderful little journey in Hawai’i to know “Pele” better, and ourselves as children of the earth. As for what I want to create in my life…to continue blogging and do some art. For blog, I consider it like a digital legacy for loved ones and others who care to read it.
Jean, someone else had recently mentioned they wanted blogging to be their digital legacy. Hadn’t thought of this work that way before.. but so true. “Blogging and art:”- both beautiful creative babies to keep growing 🙂