This is the second in a series of articles exploring symbols as they pertain to pregnancy and birth. If you’re not already a symbolism junkie, get ready to be a convert! If you missed the first issue on symbolism, you can still find it on my blog.
Further to last issue’s introduction to symbolism, this time around we’re looking at the Circle, a form well-attuned to birth, indeed. Universally, the circle represents completeness, infinity, wholeness, focus, and unity. As Hermes said, “God is a circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.” In nature, we find circles in the celestial bodies, in the cycles of women and the seasons, in cells and seeds, in tree rings, and as ripples in water. There are round fruits and round eggs, round creatures, especially in the sea. Culturally we have wheels and clock faces, drums and coins. We wear bracelets and necklaces and rings, which traditionally symbolized female sexual availability and the finger within the ring represented consummation (perhaps the endless commitment of marriage is just a romantic notion after all!). Much art is inclusive of the circle, from halos in spiritual paintings to mandalas, circular works of art bearing the Sanskrit word meaning “magical circle”. We drink and eat from round bowls, cups and plates, originally forged through the traditional woman’s art of pottery. It is interesting to note that the Greek word for “bowl” is amnion. The amnion is the part of the developing baby cells which builds the membrane which later become the amniotic sac that surrounds and protects the baby from the embryo stage until birth. And of course, we must remember the circles we sit and dance in.
With respect to pregnancy, birth, and parenting, we find the circle centre-stage. In fact, the circles become fuller, larger, more expansive through the processes of pregnancy and birth. As the round egg cell and the rounded sperm cell (the sperm must drop its tail in order to find union) we begin. Mother’s belly and breasts grow rounder, her areolas expand, becoming vibrant with life. As the cycle of pregnancy becomes the cycle of motherhood, the cervix forms a sacred circle through which we pass, and then we are gathered, surrounded by the circle of our mother’s embrace. We meet our mother’s eyes, those portals through which our souls connect. The eyes are bright with love and light, pupils always adjusting to let just the right amount of light in. We have joined the circles of our family, community, and humanity; and it is through these circles we find wholeness.
In HypnoBirthing we operate on a circular model. We fundamentally believe that birth works best when it is a process of “power with” not “power over”. We honour the woman as the source of her own empowerment and we endeavour to facilitate a sacred circle that supports and protects her. The subtle imagery of the circle is built into the HypnoBirthing program: With Slow Breathing/Surge Breath there is the imagery of filling a balloon and the baby resting in a bowl or crater. In the Birth Companion’s Reading we remember that: “One cycle is ending and, immediately, another is beginning.” The Depthometer script includes “…flowing out into your circulatory system…” and “the round numbers – 30, 20, 10 and 0 — will bring you to a new and deeper level of relaxation.” And as the Chinese proverb goes, “Tension is who you think you should be; relaxation is who you are.” The perfect roundness of the Control Valve gives us complete access to our inner resources, relaxing us into who we are.
written by Lara Stewart-Panko, BA/BSW, CH, HBCE, Doula, who taught me all about symbols and their power to speak straight to the heart at the Hypnobirthing conclave in Florida this past Sept.
Marie’s notes :
Beyond the HypnoBirthing course content itself, I endeavor to bring the power of the circle into my classes by arranging our seating in a semi-circle, providing lots of spherical birth balls to sit and by serving tea in round cups (even some of the teas bags are round). There is also art with circle imagery hanging in the space – Have you ever notice the above painting? It’s called the pregnant earth.
In the washroom, you find a round circle sink with a circular mirror hanging above it. All of these things were conscious choices on my part in order to create a space that would on a subconscious level strengthen the feminine energy. Being able to chose these thing is one of the great things about teaching the HypnoBirthing class from home. For those of you who haven’t seen the new space, don’t worry I’m planning an open house for later this year.