THE POLITICS OF CREATION (birth) & CAPTIVE CETACEA (whales,dolphins) What is the connection?
Abstract prepared for World Futures XV Conference, September 1997 (c) Estelle Myers, MAppSc.Soc.Ec.Student, UWS, Richmond, NSW Dedicated to my daughters, grandchildren and all future generations of children, a vision for their future. A future based on individual freedom with a group consciousness living in harmony with each other and their environment.
This paper is a highly personal account of my vision shared internationally for the first time at Fraser University, Vancouver, BC, on July 23, 1981. The event was 10th Human Unity Conference. I talked about "kinship with all life" and the possibility of birthing human babies underwater. I had already made a commitment to purchase a property in New Zealand to investigate the relationship between humans and dolphins and to initiate waterbirth. The project began after an encounter with dolphins in Queensland, which changed my life. I had experienced 'interspecies communication' on the full moon of October 28th, 1980. The concepts were a 'figment' of my imagination. Imagining the future.
It is impossible for me to condense 17 years of global adventures in a paper of 3000 words. I became the 'voice' of unborn children, their mothers and captive marine mammals. I travelled the world at my own expense, often finding myself being present to support a baby being born in and underwater. I also met and swam with many captive whales and dolphins. I tried to raise money to support the project, without success. I sold my home in Australia and followed my passion in New Zealand, where the first children were born in my bathtub 15 years ago. This then is an attempt to make some bold predictions and pleas from my heart. My voice has the authority of powerful personal experiences which in turn can be measured as successful. Little or no 'scientific' research has been done to date, the evidence then is anecdotal. However, one of my missions is to validate anecdotal information. Another is to empower individuals to know that they can make a difference. Last but not least it has been my dedication to demonstrate that lack of money is not lack of personal power.
As a mother, grandmother, social activist and ecofeminist I would like to suggest that we begin at the beginning, birth. I propose a novel social innovation that can and will create a different future. Homo delphinus, human dolphins, babies born in and under water. My research and experience of the last 20 years, leads me to demand a major shift in attitude towards the miracle of creation and giving birth. Attitudinal healing that embraces the notion of power from within, rather than power over. Giving birth back to women. Empowering women to trust their own process. Attitudes that regards all life as sacred and recognises the connectedness of the web of life. GAIA.
I know that fear is a learned response, which is known to be responsible for pain, anger, guilt and competition, some of the causes of making personal or global war. I know that it is possible to be born without learning fear. Babies born from the water of the womb, into the waters of the world, appear not to learn fear. I know that mothers who use water to support the birth experience are more relaxed, which in turn expedites the birth experience for both the mother and the baby. Water born babies, homo delphinus, are like little dolphins and learn to breath consciously. They do not have to deal with the pressure of gravity as they emerge from the birth canal. The brain and nervous system is protected, like an egg yolk surrounded by the thick fluid of egg white, albumin. The umbilical cord in water, continues to supply oxygen without the same pressure of gravity. The oxygen is delivered to the far corners of the brain, as the baby has time to recover from the most difficult journey we make, before gently coming to the surface to take its first breath. Gradually and ever so slowly filling its lungs.
The first physical experience of life on earth is gentle, instead of a trauma. Trauma that has been shown to cause much dysfunctional and violent behaviour. It is time to redefine, the miracle of birth and the gift of love.
Questions to be asked?
Why has there been so much resistance from the medical professionals?
What are the ramifications for the future?
How can we deconstruct the pattern of patriarchal control that dominates the birth process, medicine, education, government and the law.
What can be learned from Cetacea? 'The people who live in the sea," the air breathing marine mammals, whales and dolphins?
Why do we allow Cetacea to die in captivity to entertain us? What has that to do with our future?
What is the connection between understanding and respecting all life as sacred as we look towards tomorrow?
What is 'Adams' world and how can we deconstruct the hierarchical world of "Adam's reality"? The world of original sin as described in the bible?
Genesis and Creation.
The late Carl Sagan says, "So far as I know, childbirth is generally painful in only one of the millions of species on Earth: human beings.
The connection between the evolution of intelligence and pain of childbirth seems unexpectedly to be made in the Book of Genesis. In punishment for eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, God says to Eve "In pain shalt thou bring forth children" (Genesis 3:16). (Sagan:1977, p97)
As we move rapidly toward the end of 20th Century, we all are still enveloped in a world governed by man made laws, giving man above all else, the power over everything. The Patriarchal laws of dominance still determines our lives. Elizabeth Dodson Gray argues that:
Men have named and defined reality from their point of view, their understanding point in the experience of life. The biblical account of Adam "naming" the world and everything in it (Genesis 2:19-20a) is a mythological account of a profoundly important truth in the sociology of our contem- porary knowledge.
We live in Adam's world, for men socially constructed the reality which has defined and controlled how people would perceive their world. (Dodson Gray: 1982, p48-49)
In her earlier book, "Green Paradise Lost" Elizabeth Dodson Gray used the following diagram (1) to illustrate the hierarchical view of Adam's world. According to her, the root meaning of hierarchy is derived from Greek, meaning "holy order". So we see God above everything and nature at the bottom of the heap.
What is clearly articulated here is a hierarchical order of being in which lower orders - whether female or child or animals or plant - can be treated, mistreated, violated, sold, sacrificed or killed at the convenience of the higher states of spiritual being found in males and in God. Nature, being not only at the bottom of this pyramid, but being the most full of dirt, blood, and such nasty natural surprises as earthquakes, floods, and bad storms, is obviously a prize candidate for the most ruthless "mastering" of all. (Dodson Gray: 1979, p6)
My illustration of the reverse pyramid, is a view, one that embraces all, which is a total mirror reversal of Adam's reality. Not so much matriarchal, but holistic. A reality where I am, indeed nothing is, more or less important in the scheme of things. One which acknowledges that all life is sacred, and all life is connected to the Divine Source, by whatever one wants to call it by name.
I choose GAIA.
I am and we are all connected to a wonderful tapestry and web of life, which in turn effects all and everything. A self regulating entity A world of harmony.
The "Gaia Hypothesis" proposed that "the entire range of living matter on Earth, from whales to viruses, and from oaks to algae, could be regarded as constituting a single living entity, capable of manipulating the earth's atmosphere to suit its overall needs and endowed with faculties and powers far beyond those of its constituent parts." (Merchant: 1996, p 4)
Merchant goes on to state that the combination of " spirituality and scientific theory recast Gaia as a compelling metaphor for a new understanding and reverence for life on earth."
An Alternative intelligence.
Let me tease you with a vision of what life might be like. "I wish to tell something of what we have learned about a group of uninhibited nudists who have never worn clothes. They have never walked on their own two feet. They have no property. They cannot write their own names. They have no commerce or stores. They have no radio, no TV. They have no fireplaces, nor furnaces, or any fire at all. They have no atomic or nuclear bombs or power plants. They have no written or printed records. They have no libraries or paintings. In spite of all these handicaps, they are successful. They have big brains and bright minds. They have built-in transportation. They have readily available food supplies. They have the sense to go south in the winter and to go north in summer. They have the ability to out manoeuvre, and fight successfully against their enemies. Finally, they think enough of us to help when they find us in trouble."
Sounds idyllic? Paradise, stress free, trouble free and totally joyous. This statement was made by Dr John Lilly, referring to his research with dolphins. American and Russian military have spent millions of dollars to explore their sonar and intelligence. They live in the oceans of the world without boundaries, and have been around for more than 30 million years.
They live in harmony with their environment, each other and do not harm their only enemy, human beings. They mate belly to belly, breast feed their young for eighteen months and live in close knit communities with individual freedom and a group consciousness.
Midwife dolphins assist in the birth of the young. The Blue whales, mate for life. Whales are the largest dolphins, all of these air breathing species are named cetacea.
They communicate with each other. The humpback whales, sing songs that change every season. Carol Sagan and Buckminster Fuller were among those who thought that the songs, may carry important messages, even their historical records.
What can we learn from these gentle, intelligent creatures that appear to be as interested in us, as we are in them. (The fastest growing industry of the last two decades, is that of eco-tourism.) Whale and dolphin watching, in the oceans of the world was recorded in 1994 to be worth more than 700 million dollars, spent by 5.5 million people who visited 65 countries to experience cetacea in their natural habitat.
Scientific research into these great creatures has mainly been done in captivity. It is now conceded by those who have worked closely with the marine mammals, that any research conducted in captivity is equal to studying human behaviour in prison. They die in captivity and their behaviour bears little or no resemblance at all to their lives in the ocean. (see appendix 1.)
In captivity females often abort, miscarry or give birth to still born babies. Female cetacea cease to ovulate in captivity. If the young are born alive, they invariably die within months, from lack of nourishment. Bearing in mind that they are breast fed, which means the mother swims in a straight line, with the baby attached to a nipple underneath her. It is impossible in concrete tanks. These intelligent marine mammals will travel at speeds of up to 32 knots for 100's of kilometres daily. Keeping cetacea captive is a multi million dollar industry, which started in 1938, but has now proven to be inappropriate. Great Britain has been the first country in the world to recognise that these institutions are redundant and serve no purpose either for education or science. Every facility has been shut down for some years now.
Billions and billions of dollars have been spent attempting to explore space and search for extra terrestrials. Might it not be possible that these extraordinary marine mammals who have been around for 30 plus million years, are reaching out to make contact and teach us another way to live in harmony with our environment and each other. Might it not be possible to learn from them in numerous ways. I am proposing that one way is the investigation about waterbirth.
O.T.s, Ocean Terrestrials. Sentient beings more highly developed than ourselves. Complete with built in space technology, which modern scientists are still attempting to replicate. Dr John Lilly now in his eighties is the grandfather of cetacea research, and the first scientist to set his captive friends free.
I realised that here was an independent being living in an alien environment whose evolution was several times the length of the human evolution. (Lilly 1978, p256)
He had established the possibility of inter- species communication. He is currently working on a Cetacea Bill of Rights to present to the United Nations. He has declared that they have brain sizes comparable to humans and have had them for a great deal longer. I believe that we can presume that they have ethics, morals and regard for one another much more highly developed than does the human species. For example, they realise their total interdependence. (Lilly 1978, p256)
Devaluation of women and nature Here is another puzzling thought. Again from Genesis, "God created great whales and every living creature that moves which the water brought forth abundantly after their kind and God saw that it was good". He gave man dominion of all! It was this same man made publication that declared that Eve would be punished for partaking of the tree of knowledge, and would thereafter suffer in sorrow and pain to give birth. A man made myth, another myth of Adams world.
Even Aristotle elaborated on female inferiority. He declared with authority, in his work "On the Generation of Animals" that "the female does not contribute semen to generation" but does contribute the matter of the catmenia (menses). This profound dictum, made after witnessing the cessation of menstruation during pregnancy. The female contribution is menstrual blood, which, after all, is widely held to be taboo stuff, a wastage, or at best a cleanser. Its inferiority to male semen is explicitly explained in Aristotle's theory of semen. (Hillman 1972, p229)
On might consider the conspiracy of Adams world, as the myth continues even as we approach the next millennium Life giving blood, menstruation and childbirth are both seen as unclean by many religions. Manmade rituals exist for women to be cleansed before being able to participate in 'normal' daily life, after such 'bloody' times. I am not talking about ancient times, it continues today. Jewish women who keep the faith, in the most traditional sense, must be bathed in a Mikvah, a bath of purification, blessed by Holy Men, before touching the families food etc, after menstruation.
Two English women friends have told me of their experience of giving birth to children during the 1950's, each in different parts of England, and being unwelcome in the homes of relatives and friends until after they had gone to the local clergy and "been churched." (Dodson Gray: 1982, p2)
What do these attitudes have in common as we reach toward the end of this century? Faced with ecological disaster, as a direct result of mans perceived supremacy. Living in a world where men are valued and women are valued less. A world where captive marine mammals are worth millions and a civilisation that was built on the back of the whaling industry. A world where Mother nature is equated with women, and is either to be conquered, subdued, exploited and manipulated for the benefits of mankind. Where patriarchal reality threatens all life on this planet. (Patriarchy does not refer only to men, but the ways of masculine thinking and doing.) "Adams" world of authority and power over, a world without freedom or choice, be it a birthing woman or captive cetacea.
Marilyn Waring in her very powerful tome, "Counting for Nothing" or "What Men Value and What Women are worth" clearly identifies that more than half the worlds population, the women - have no value.
They do not exist in the global economy, just as natural resources; (Mother Nature ) have no value until men have exploited her. Fresh air, clean oceans, forests, wild life,a pollution free environment, even mother's milk! None have any value until manufactured, according to the United Nations System of National Accounts, they are worthless. (Waring, 1988) They are not even a factor in the economic world pie. Whereas, the military, the despoilers and those who destroy the natural resources, who use and abuse Mother Earth, the drug barons, all have end products that are traded, all are part of the Gross National Product of nations of the world.
According to Waring, less than the two weeks global military budget in 1986, would have been enough to provide safe water and sanitation for all human and animals alike. These leads me to ask, what constitutes 'value'? Waring points out that for her value is a moot point when,in the Oxford English Dictionary its principle meaning is determined purely on economic grounds.
"I know about the value of friendship, fresh air, daily exercise. I frequently weigh the value of my time, how will I spend it, in which activity? For me, value is a sense, a feeling - not a tangible measure, despite the Oxford English Dictionary. (Waring: 1988, p17)
Dale Spender in her recent book, "Nattering on the Net, about Women , Power and Cyberspace," points out that The English Oxford Dictionary is in itself the epitome of patriarchal domination.
"In the 1973 edition of the OED, only 70 of 1525 people quoted are female. Thats less than 5 per cent." (Spender: 1995, p25)
Progress for women rights appears to be minimal. I have had a rude awakening attempting to introduce the concept of water as a tool, for more gentle non violent birthing. A concept which benefits both the mother and the baby.
Once more Great Britain has been in the forefront of change, 1992, passing laws in the British House of Commons, to make water an option in every hospital in England and Wales, even on the National Health. (MNJ Vol.310 I April, 1995)
Nowhere is the power of male dominance more revealing than in the process of modern birth technology. In post war years, birth has become a highly technical procedure, with potential dangers to both mother and child. The World Health Organisation figures reveal the abuse of medical intervention, especially in Western cultures. Australia is among the worst offenders. The 1993 National Perinatal Statistics of the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare showed one in five births were by caesarean section. Privately insured women are vastly over-represented in being judged to require surgical intervention.
In modern hospitals, birthing women lay like stranded marine mammals attached to man made toys designed to measure every aspect of their bodily functions. There is little regard for the comfort of the woman. Meanwhile, Midwives are fighting for credibility worldwide. Birth has become a multi-million dollar business. The traditional midwife is being forced from the labour wards. Birth is not, according to the medical professionals, a miracle and natural phenomena to be celebrated by all involved.
The few brave obstetricians, willing to support women without medical intervention, run grave risks of being vilified by their colleagues. There has been an attempt to offer a more supportive environment in hospital at 'birth centres'. However, it is little more than cosmetic. The bottom line is birth is controlled and to be controlled. Women are dis-empowered, and become subjected to the rules and regulations of the institute. Freedom and choice of options rarely exist. T he obstetrician has the power to make all crucial decisions. Mi dwives are subjected to the authority of male domination.
In the United States midwives are arrested and charged with practising medicine without a license. Dr Michael Rosenthal, who supported more than 2000 water births without incident in California, finally, due to pressure of his peers, had to close his birth centre. Here in New South Wales, the current government has spent more than one million dollars of the taxpayers money to attempt to discredit Australia most outspoken independent midwife. The case is still pending. In 1992 the same NSW government, literally outlawed 'lay midwives' making it a criminal act for a woman to support a woman at birth. This is now really a matter of Human Rights.
In this conference we have been asked to envisage the future. A different future.
My vision is for future generations is to see babies born from the water of the womb, into the waters of the world. Human dolphins, homo delphinus the name coined by famous deep sea diver Jaques Mayol.
My research leads me, ever returning to WATER! In 1974, Joan McIntyre assembled the most profound evidence that we share this planet, Mother Earth, GAIA with another mind, anatomically like ours but different. In her book "Mind In the Waters" A Book to Celebrate the Consciousness of Whales and Dolphins. Creation myths are explored and often refer to water. The world "Delphi" means womb.
The ancient Greeks worshipped dolphins. It was a crime to injure or kill them. The widespread belief that the world was created from watery beginnings may be a symbolic statement of understanding that our own life issue forth from water. We are born of the water of life - the amniotic fluid that suspends and protects the embryo is the same fluid that forms the primeval matter of all life on the planet. Realising and honouring this connection is a step toward the unification of the spirit of humans with the spirit of the natural world. (McIntyre. 1974 p48)
As I weave this fascinating tapestry together, across so many disciplines, and find the magical connections, I a more convinced than every that I have stumbled on something quite magnificent.
I seem to have come full circle, reading the brilliant work of Elizabeth Dodson Gray, who quotes McIntyre and "Mind in the Waters" back in 1979 in her book, "Green Paradise Lost". In it she clearly enunciates the world of "Adams Reality". The Judean/Christian model of creation, bringing forth woman from mans rib!
No conception, no fetus, no birth!
She asks, and so do I, who profits from such a myth?
The Genesis myth establishes a hierarchical structure of inequality and legitimates the temporal priority and higher statues of the male. It "de-births" the origin of the human species by taking away woman as birth-giver. (Dodson Gray 1979, p30)
I am unable to fill in all the details in this paper, however, a picture is worth a thousand words. Hopefully, you will see for your self in my video presentation, another reality. Whether it be in a bed or a bath, a home or a hospital, or even the ocean, every woman has the human right to make informed decisions about the birth of her baby. Freedom to choose and to be supported. Captive marine mammals must be free.
FREEDOM IS THE KEY ISSUE of both the Politics of Creation and captivity of Cetacea.
Human and Cetacea rights are equal.
All life is sacred.
(c) 1997 Estelle Myers
Dodson Gray Elizabeth, "Green Paradise Lost" Roundtable Press 1979 "Patriarchy as a Conc eptual Trap" Roundtable Press 1982 Genesis, Revised Standard Version of the Bible Hillman James, "The Myth of Analysis", Harper Perennial, 1972 Lilly Dr John, "Communication Between Man and Dolphin" Crown NY, 1978 McIntyre Joan, "Mind In The Waters" Charles Scribners, NY 1974 Merchant Caroline, "Earthcare" Routledge NY, 1996 Sagan Carl, "The Dragons of Eden" Ballantine Books, NY, 1977 Waring Marilyn, "Counting for Nothing" Allen & Unwin, 1988
Recommended Further Reading
Capra Fritjov, The Web of Life Chilton Pearce, The Magical Child Dinnerstein Dorothy, The Mermaid and Minotour Dobbs Dr Horace, Journey Into The Dolphin Dreamtime Eisler Raine, The Chalice and the Blade Morgan Elaine, The Aquatic Ape Robbins John, Reclaiming Our Health Williams Heathcote, Whale Nation
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