Friday, May 2, 2014

I was on the radio this winter talking about perinatal massage work!

Guiding others through important life passages

Leslie Stager is a Registered Nurse and a Licensed Massage Therapist who has attended over 500 births. She worked for years as a labor and delivery nurse, doula, and childbirth educator and developed and directs the 60-hour MotherTouch Maternity Massage Certification Program. She is the author of a prime perinatal massage textbook, and has produced three educational massage and birth DVDs. Listen in here to hear about her journey of becoming an international perinatal massage educator.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Power of Mother!

Around the world, the cycle of pregnancy, birth  and becoming Mother––as well as women’s other blood mysteries of menstruation and menopause––is revered and acknowledged with elaborate ceremonies; women are recognized as the source of all creation, or as Tamara Slayton describes—as “vessels of spiritual fire” (Baker 1986:222). It is no small miracle to have two people making use of one external body. It is no small matter that a woman can nourish life with milk produced in her breasts. An Orthodox Jewish woman described that in her tradition, a woman in her Moontime is revered for reflecting the creative power of the Divine: the power to bring another human being into life. Thus, she is treated deferentially by men, especially during this time in her monthly cycle. This role as creator and bearer of life is recognized by most cultures as one of utmost power; females are respected, feared and held in awe for this primal blood mystery. 

The Power of Ma!  In Assam, India, there is a temple specifically honoring the “yoni” or vagina of the Goddess Khamakya. Once a year at this temple, the goddess is said to be menstruating. Men and women from around the country stop work and come to the temple to honor her fertility. Flowing deep inside the temple is a stream that turns red at this time of year. People stand in line for days to be able to kneel by this stream and collect the healing water—the menstrual blood of Khamakya. Women often run out of the temple, moved by their contact with the Great Mother goddess, crying and calling out, “Ma, Ma, Ma.”
“Ma, Ma, Ma”… it is a universal sound that has called for mother for thousands of years. It is a word that is embedded in our language in the words: Mama, Mammal, Mammary—words related to mothering. It is a sound that often emanates naturally from a newborn’s voice when calling for mother.
The specific word “mama”––for mother––exists in numerous languages: Russian, Mayan, Quechuan, Swahili, Albanian, Hungarian, Indonesian, Swahili, Turkish, Hawaiian, Arizona Hopi, Chickasaw, Chinook, Creek, Koasati. Many other languages have words related to motherhood with roots in Sanskrit (see list below).
In my work as MotherTouch perinatal massage educator, doula, and rites of passage guide, I remind students and clients of this essential wisdom and reverence for becoming Mother. 

Sanskrit, considered to be the “mother of all languages,” has words for mother that relates to most Indo-European words for mother.  In Sanskrit, mother is: Maatrih, maatah, maatur, maatrikah.
Afirkaans: MA, MOEDER
 Latin: MATER, MATRIX ("origin")
--Danish: MOR
--Hungarian: MAMA
--Mayan: MAMAH
--Swahili: MAMA
--Polish: MATKA
--Quechuan: MAMA
--Spanish: MADRE
--Vietnamese: ME, ME DE
--Old English: MODOR
--Hopi (Arizona): MAAMA
--Zulu: UMAME
--Tolowa (NW California): ME-DRE, "mother-in-law".
--Western Abenaki (Quebec) MAMAN--"food (baby talk)"
--Turkish MAMA, "(baby) food". Interestingly, the Turkish words for mother are ANNE or ANA. ???Cf. Skt. ANNAH, "food"; IS THAT’S SANSKRIT?
--Swahili MAMA MZAZI, "mother-who-produces-offspring"
--Albanian: MATRICE, "womb"
--Finnish: EMA"MAA, "mother-country"
--Spanish: MAMAR--suck,  devour food; acquire in infancy"
.--English: MAMMAL, "breast-feeder".
--Latin: MAMMA, "breast"
; --Greek: MAMME-- "midwife, grandmother";
 --Ancient Greek: MAMMAN-- "cry for food".
--Hawaiian: MAMA, "to chew, but not swallow"(such as mothers pre-masticating food for infants)

Some tribes of people, like the Assam in Africa, call themselves "maharis", or "motherhoods."