Love is no longer a gendered narrative, a subject assigned to females. Obsessions about the topic of love are deeply rooted in patriarchal conditioning. Taming began thousands of years ago with the first fall of eve and the mythological voice that declared females have less intrinsic value than males. In the eyes of patriarchal culture to be female is to never be good enough or to never be as you are.

Gender difference is intimately sewn into the fabric of humanness. At every stage in its long history, patriarchy has absorbed and enforced socially constructed gender divisions. These divisions have traditionally ascribed power and dominance to an elite group of men. Historically women and minorities have been subordinated in politics, economics, religion, and education. The subordination of femaleness or feminine qualities in patriarchal culture marks us from the very beginning as unworthy. This entrains us to dislike or devalue our female selves — the unconscious perpetuation of misogyny. We learn that in order to survive we must perform in ways that are pleasing, polite, and accommodating to the superior male body that is cemented into patriarchal foundations.

In the third century BCE, the philosopher Aristotle described the female body as the inverse of the male body, with its genitalia “turned outside in.” This marked anatomical difference from men defined women as faulty, defective, and deficient, essentially woman was slated as a misbegotten man with the sole duty to reproduce. Convictions like this created the stage for a patriarchal culture where all women and some men interiorize a debilitating sense of psychic trauma, shame, and powerlessness.

One of the most influential Christian theologians St. Clement of Alexandria sanctions patriarchal mythology in an irrefutable sermon, “in pain shall you bring forth children, woman, and you shall turn to your husband, and he shall rule over you, and know that you are Eve. God’s sentence hangs still over all your sex, and his punishment weighs down upon you. You are the Devil’s gateway. You are she who first violated the forbidden tree and broke the law of God. It was you who coaxed your way around him whom the devil had not the force to attack. With what ease you shattered that image of God, man because of the death you merited. Even the Son of God had to die. Woman, you are the gate to hell.

There is so much to unpack here. You may wonder, why am I writing about this? What does love have to do with this? Why does history matter? You might even believe none of this is happening today. I understand that feeling, it can be convenient until it hits you in the face or the womb.

I am writing about this because patriarchy has insidiously infiltrated into every aspect of life including medicine, and — all of our relations. Our world is burning. Therefore, it significantly imprints false believes within us and impacts our ability for self-love and to love others — all beings and our earth mother. Once patriarchy is seen, you see it everywhere — capitalism, racism, sexism, ableism, colonialism, consumerism, classism, imperialism, heterosexism, sizeism, cissexism, authoritarianism... It is brutal and can’t be unseen until it is dismantled at its roots.

In order to go forward in support of sovereignty for all beings, we need to uncover the origins of patriarchy and understand our essential roots prior to the toxic dominant script. Gerda Learner in her groundbreaking book The Creation of Feminist Consciousness states “patriarchy has a beginning and it will have an end.” She continues,

“The fact that women were denied knowledge of the existence of women’s history decisively and negatively affected their intellectual development as a group. Women who did not know that others like them had made intellectual contributions to knowledge and creative thought were overwhelmed by the sense of their own inferiority, or conversely, the dangers of their daring to be different. Without knowledge of women’s past, no group of women could test their own ideas against those of their equals, those who had come out of similar conditions and similar life situations. Every thinking woman had to argue with the great man in her head instead of being strengthened and encouraged by her foremothers. For thinking women, the absence of women’s history was perhaps the most serious obstacle of all to their intellectual growth and power.”

We now have archeological evidence that prior to patriarchal mythology egalitarian cultures existed; earth-based Goddess rituals and rites of passage were practiced. Care, connection, pleasure, and love for all were centered as precious and sacred. See the work of Riane Eisler, The Chalice and the Blade. This in-depth study and dismantling are important to me and others because we are awake to love and living wholesome healthy lives in union with others rather than in a trance of unworthiness and separation. I am also keenly aware that a privileged class of women gained access to power through association with men and the history they share through academia is not universal or representative of the lived experiences of many people.

When my first child was born naturally at home on my living room floor with the assistance of a midwife and the support of friends, I was enthralled with ecstasy that subsumed me for many months. Of course, my body had intense contractions but I did not suffer. I did not carry the deep historical curse in my psychic that women shall bear children through pain and suffering. I was unaware of the patriarchal medical myth that birth is dangerous and requires the technical intervention of modern protocols designed by men trained to believe they know what a woman can or cannot do with her body. I was well aware of midwifery and women helping other women to give birth to babies safely. Today, gendered medical myths are ingrained as biases that brutally influence the care, treatment, and diagnosis of all people who identify as women. I was empowered to trust the intelligence of my body and my baby to birth together. We traversed a necessary rite of passage that continues to influence our relationship to life. Deep in our bones, we know, we did it!

My friend Charles Eisenstein in his essay Time to Push “draws from Stanislav Grof’s concept of perinatal matrices, a four-stage description of the psychodynamics of birth. Stage 1 is Uterine Bliss. The womb provides the fetus with all that it needs, and it grows without any apparent limit, struggle, or effort. While various kinds of maternal stress may affect the fetus, nature does its best to cushion it from serious trauma.

Stage 1 gives way to Stage 2 as the baby grows up against the limits of the womb and contractions begin. Paradise becomes hell as the pressure increases with no apparent way out. Stage 3 begins when the cervix opens and the baby begins the journey through the birth canal. The contractions, the squeezing, and the pushing intensify, yet because a destination beckons, this stage is normally less hellish than the previous, even as it demands every resource of mother and child.

Stage 4 is the emergence into a new world. There is no going back. A profound separation has transpired, the infant is reunited with the mother as she holds the baby to her breast. The baby is now a member of society, and a new phase of development begins.

A newborn baby feels a tremendous sense of accomplishment, a whole-body satisfaction of having completed a hard journey. That is one reason why medically-unnecessary C-sections are so harmful. They rob the baby and mother of a primal, foundational achievement. Without that sense of  “I can do it!” the person may be susceptible to the infantilizing authoritarianism that increasingly runs our society. Without this archetypal experience of struggle and victory, she may tend toward docility and helplessness, disbelieving her power and agency, willing to let others do it, giving her power to Donald Trump—he will save us—or Bill Gates or those benevolent scientists and doctors. All is not lost though: the newborn’s soul deprived of that experience of struggle and victory may engineer it in her life, enacting the missing birth stages. First Stage 2: depression, hopelessness. Then a life-or-death struggle, such as a health challenge. Or an abusive relationship where she must finally exit the situation, gain victory, and enter a new world with a sense of achievement.” Charles or I am not saying life-saving C-sections are bad or that babies born that way are irreparably harmed; however, birth choices should include such considerations, invisible though they may be to “statistical risk-benefit analyses.”

Charles mentions one of many reasons why medically unnecessary C-sections are so harmful, I feel that. It is how patriarchy keeps us small and exhausted that we forget that we have a choice — that we can reach out and choose something different — that life supports life — that love matters and finds us when we open to receive. Above all the mother and the babies are robbed of ableism in a patriarchal world designed for abled bodies that do not provide adequate resources or value the care required for life to thrive. The medical intervention of a C-section is only the beginning of life interrupted — of life in the margins — a life that requires ongoing assistance beyond what is typical within normative parameters of community and care. All life requires care, support, belonging, and opportunities to thrive beyond survival. When patriarchal medical intervention ensues, life is compromised but not without value or purpose.

I am at the crone stage of my life where I need to consider: my precious twins that were born one pound each, three months premature by a medical intervention that held us captive without an escape. They are now twenty-five and fully dependent on me. I wonder how will they carry on when I am no longer here? How will I tell our story in a way that might bring them the support they require or at least ensure that unwarranted C-sections discontinue? Currently, c-sections in the US are close to 50%. More research is required to look at this rising trend. We can facilitate the psychic wound in wombs to heal, dangerous birthing myths to be dispelled, and ecstatic birth to be restored through proper education and preparation. We can fight for medical intervention to be investigated and named what it is — a crime.

It is the love of the preciousness of all of life that brings me to this resolution. Love is life and love matters.

I recently returned from Peru for close to a month of learning and healing with trees of the jungle as a dedicated student of Curandero Ernesto Garcia. I was named Curandera within his tradition, I carry these medicine gifts with deep honor and respect. While there I read six fat books on intersectional feminism. It became clear to me that my work traveling to other countries will slow down. Somehow I managed to travel and practice my healing/teaching artistic dharma through medicine retreats with hundreds of people for over ten years. It feels that this is coming to a natural and satisfying conclusion. I was able to have a so-called professional life away from my home with my daughters, even though in the end Abby traveled with me many times to offer her gifts. She benefits greatly from participating in this work and discovering her power as a woman and a healer. For some time, the compartments of my life have dissolved — I don’t feel any part as separate. I don’t need to leave anything. Wherever I go — I am always here. I feel relaxed and whole. In many ways, my soul work is just beginning.

Now I am called to continue to unravel through my studies and writings the historical and hysterical medical mythologies that have profoundly endangered women’s bodies and the choices we make, as well as the consequences of being deprived of choice or informed consent — the Hippocratic oath — “First, do no harm.” All people are born from the womb of a body, therefore subject to historical, medical, psychic, and patriarchal trauma often in the name of capitalism that robs us of our earth mother. I continue to be amazed that medicine does not acknowledge the connection between our bodies and the raping of nature.

The view of power I embodied with my first child was that of a lifegiving and sustaining chalice that like many other women became subject to male-controlled technologies of production and reproduction. The book I am writing is about Reclaiming the Soul of Mother — As a Life-Giving and Life Sustaining Vessel for Love because love is all that matters. For too long throughout history, we have been trained to view life through the limited and tainted perceptions of a dominator patriarchal culture. Now we are learning to include the data, perspective, experience, feeling, and interpretation of a wider web of beings — of all earth’s children. In doing so, we are re-creating an egalitarian culture that is leaning toward values that are actually natural to us — care, connection, pleasure, play, inclusion, resourcefulness, sharing of ourselves — so all belong and no one is left to go hungry or to feel unsafe. We are returning to our intrinsic self-worth, value, and homeland of Mother Culture. When we have this for ourselves, we welcome everyone and everything to sit on the great lap of the cherishing mother. My book will be one of the many resources for understanding our true historical roots, dismantling the structures that do not serve us, reclaiming and empowering our souls, ourselves, and the many grassroots organizations that are fighting the good fight for love, and justice, sustainability and liberty for all.

Thank you for reading this piece. I hope you will stay tuned for more.

PS: Click here if you want to watch a 9-minute documentary about my twin’s perfect ultra-sound, birth, and love victories!