(Essay) Don’t Take It Lying Down: Reproductive Autonomy and the Goddess by Dr Kaalii Cargill

Once upon a time, when “God was a woman”[i], anywhere from 35000 years ago until about 3500 years ago in some parts of the world, the life-giving power of the Goddess was deeply respected. Consistent with this, women were respected as the life-givers, and the functions of pregnancy, birth, and nurturing were valued as reflections of the Great Mother, the mother of all. The rhythms and cycles of Nature were honoured in ceremonies and rituals, in daily practices that reflected a reverence for the feminine principle.  

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00008]The world in which we now live has little of this reverence, and we have forgotten many ancient ways of knowing. We have forgotten that women in some parts of the world did once know how to manage fertility in a simple, uncomplicated internal way, with little need to use any outside devices or programs. If these were needed, there is considerable evidence that simple, safe birth control was also available in the form of vaginal sponges, herbs and abortifacient drugs.[ii]

This is a very different story from modern biological science, which tells us that women were at the mercy of Nature during their childbearing years until the advent of the contraceptive Pill.

This other story tells of women’s mysteries destroyed by church and state authorities and various individuals, all of whom were jealous and/or fearful of women’s life-giving power. In this story (herstory rather than history), there are social, religious and cultural factors that have deeply affected the way we think about ourselves, our bodies, and the relationship between psyche and matter. These factors have profoundly impacted on fertility management, resulting in the loss of true reproductive autonomy.

There are women who practice mindbody birth control[iii], a way of managing conception through a process of internal regulation, without using drugs, synthetic hormones, or physical devices, and without abstaining at any time during the fertility cycle. This method involves an internal mindbody process that is in the tradition of ancient women’s mysteries; it is a reclaiming of deep inner wisdom and power and offers true reproductive autonomy. It is a practical experience of what can happen when the ancient mysteries of the Goddess are rediscovered by modern women.

The mindbody approach to birth control returns choice and control in a simple, accessible form and is a safe, inexpensive, empowering alternative for women across the world. The only problem is that it is an idea so foreign to us these days that most modern women cannot even imagine doing it.

Why is something like mindbody birth control so foreign to us? Why is it so frightening? Did women once know about this? What happened to change things? What has been forgotten and lost?

When we begin to ask these questions, we begin to see through the assumptions and cultural mythologies that have determined our life choices. Taking a close look at these influences is beginning of being able to choose rather than be controlled by factors that are usually invisible and taken for granted. Despite centuries of conditioning, many of us can sense that things are not what they seem, that the so-called experts don’t always know best. One of the things that supports this sort of intuitive knowing is the relationship women have with our bodies via sexuality, menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, and hands on parenting.

The practice of mindbody birth control is something that some women around the world have spontaneously developed, sometimes teaching it to others, and sometimes just doing it. My own experience has been that women are interested in the possibility, but they are very uncertain about trying it for themselves. True reproductive autonomy does not fit our current social, religious, and political beliefs. Even women who consciously challenge these beliefs in some areas of their lives find the idea of taking charge of birth control in this way very daunting. What if it doesn’t work?

We become bluffed by the shame and fear associated with unwanted pregnancy rather than claiming our right to true power, choice and control. In order to engage mindbody birth control, we have to come to terms with our cultural and personal beliefs about women and power, and we must confront our conditioned lack of confidence in our relationship with deep feminine wisdom. How each of us approaches this relationship will impact on the Earth, the original matter . . . mater . . . mother of us all.

[This is an edited excerpt from DON’T TAKE IT LYING DOWN: LIFE ACCORDING TO THE GODDESS (2013) in which I explore these issues through history, mythology, anthropology, psychology, and biology, and through the “soul stories” of the women who have shared their experiences with me.  http://kaalii.wix.com/soulstory]

[i]  M Stone, 1978, When God Was a Woman, New York, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

[ii] G Davis, 1974, Interception of Pregnancy: Post-conceptive Fertility Control, Sydney, Australia, Angus & Robertson, p. 220. BG Walker, 1983, The Women’s Encyclopaedia of Myths and Secrets, New York, Harper & Row, p. 104.

[iii]  HK Cargill, 1999, A Phenomenological Investigation of a Psychobiological Method of Birth Control, Doctoral thesis held at Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia. Interviews with Australian women practising mindbody birth control.

M Jackson & T Teague, 1978, Mental Birth Control, Oakland, CA., Lawton-Teague Publications.

J Parvati, 1978, Hygieia: A Woman’s Herbal, Monroe, UT, Freestone Innerprizes.

A Rosenblum, 1976, The Natural Birth Control Book, Philadelphia, PA, Aquarian Research Foundation.

M Sjoo & B Mor, 1987, The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscoverinq the Religion of the Earth, San Francisco, Harper & Row.

Read Meet Mago Contributor, Kaalii Cargill.

We, the co-editors, contributors, and advisers, have started the Mago Web (Cross-cultural Goddess Web) to rekindle old Gynocentric Unity in our time. Now YOU can help us raise this torch high to the Primordial Mountain Home (Our Mother Earth Herself) wherein everyone is embraced in WE. There are many ways to support Return to Mago. You may donate to us. No amount is too small for us. For your time and skill, please email Helen Hwang (magoism@gmail.com). Please take an action today and we need that! Thank YOU in Goddesshood of all beings!

(Click Donate button below. You can donate by credit card or bank account without registering PayPal. Find “Don’t have a PayPal account?” above the credit card icons.)