By Queen Akilah YOHE-RA
Snarling dogs possessed by the full moon are on the heels of her bare blistered feet, chasing her through the thick of the forest. She pushes through the thickets and brush. Her heart is pounding and she can barely catch her breath. Beads of sweat are pouring down her face and burning her eyes. It is pitch black and she cannot even see her arms in front of her. She knows this forest too well. With each step and every breath she ducks and leaps and turns trying to shake the pack. “Just a little further”, she thought. “If I can make it to the Goddess Tree Calabash”... Though she knows a deep cavern is right there, she is going to have to jump at just the right moment to land in the place where she will be safe. Sweat and tears sear through her smooth black skin as she screams in anguish. The birth of her unborn child is near and the hungry dogs are on her trail. The smell of her sweet blood is in the air. Abruptly the path ended. With nowhere else to run, she stealthily leaps in one motion feet still running lifting up her pregnant body, mind and spirit and it seems like the wind is carrying her across the chasm to the Calabash tree escaping her fanged tormentors. One of the dogs fell to his death in the cavern. You can hear his yelp of helplessness as it echoes off into the depths. The rest of the pack were steadily, barking and growling as they paced to and fro along the edge of the great cavern looking at her knowing that they have failed to satisfy their hunger with her warm and tender flesh. Through every heartbeat she tries to hold in the pressure yet without apology the birth of her unborn child is here…
…At the rising of the sun, Pat’rah cries out in praise to the Goddesses!! Both her hands and feet are blistered and swollen; her back is sore and yet painfully she eases herself up from the ground to a standing position. Her legs wobble incessantly as she attempts to support the throbbing in both her feet. Suddenly she feels the stretching and snapping lightly in her womb and now her waters broke. She laughed as the water gushed out like the Nile down her legs creating a substantial puddle where she stood. In between moans she stoops low to gather leaves from off the ground. Looking for the just the right spot she begins to make a bed out of the leaves, the fluids and the soil beneath her. Removing one of the colorful wraps from her head she places it on top of the makeshift bed of leaves. She eases herself back down on the bed and then she firmly leans against the trunk of the tree.
The sun is beaming and it’s humid. Sweat is beading on her brow. She can’t bear down hard enough.
Hearing the voice of her elder…"Every woman knows instinctively how to give birth if left alone." And alone she was. Not another soul to commune with not another soul to share in her resurrection.
She thought back into the recesses of her mind and remembered how she got here. Pat’rah was a warrior woman who was skilled in the art of combat in her village. She was the only daughter of the chief and had no brothers. So she was taught to fight by the masters of warfare in her tribe. She became a distinguished warrior and no man could beat her. The men of the village had become lazy and were no longer a shield of covering for the posterity. They had let foreigners come into their nation who began to undermine and feed the village people poison and break the traditions of the community. The leaders allowed the foreigners to bring in a new god, changed the foods they ate, disrespected the family unit and allowed them to do what they wanted with the women and children. One of the higher ranking officers of the foreign group beat and raped a village woman and in defense of the abused woman, Pat’rah killed him. The foreign officials wanted her to die. But because she was a warrior and was the daughter of the Chief it was not allowed. She had led a rebellion for the rights of women and protection of the children in her village. This upset the foreigners to no end. It also embarrassed the men in her village. As the legend tells “among us will be a warrior woman with the promise of eternity in her womb” and no one will be able to subdue her. She will lay waste the men of the time and in her, eternity will rise!
She was arrested and when the guards disrobed her to beat her they saw she was with child. Pat’rah was unmarried and because of this she was banished from the Bogyehsa village by the men who thought she was too strong. Though she did no wrong and she had the promise of eternity in her womb. The men of the village had forgotten the legend told by the ancestors because the foreigners worked great magic with lies. She was considered an immoral woman so they forced her into exile by killing one village woman and child per day until she left. The Chief could no longer protect her he was already bought off. She was left to die a shameful death her and her unborn child. Death was not an option as far as Pat’rah was concerned. She was determined to live and so did her unborn child. It was as if the babe had spoken to her from the inside.
With all of this on her mind and no help in sight, she still has to try and relax. She encourages herself “All I need to do is relax and follow the flow of my body.” We’ve done this nearly a thousand times and this one is no different than the last. Listening to her body Pat’rah, enters into the animal state of her consciousness. She knows that this birth has to be safe, easy and fast. It’s only a matter of time when the dogs will come back.
Pat’rah presses her back into the tree as she experiences another contraction, scanning the forest on the other side of the cavern. No dogs in sight. The sun had risen and she realized that she was at the apex of a great mountain. “How wonderful the wilderness the gods prepared for me?” she thought. With every contraction she surveyed the vast wilderness below that stretched out to a wild roaring sea in the distance. A soft, warm and sweet breeze caressed her sweat beaded brow. And through each breath she reclaims her intention to be reborn to a higher state of being. To give birth right now requires greater strength than that which she possesses within. She knows in order to get through this she will need to take in every influence that she can. She surveys the early morning view and give thanks to the Goddess because it don’t get much better than watching the rippling waters of the river below, the gentle rise of the hills beside her, and that vast African sky above – especially now that she is lying in wait for her rebirth. She can see all the various forms of wildlife – from her unique vantage point and she begins to focus in and watch as animals roam across the landscape, and swing through the trees above her head. This birthing experience requires her to call upon and connect with all the energies of all the ancestors and for their strength to combine with her own and move from life to death and back to life again...
With every contraction she firmly roots her toes into the earth beneath for grounding and harmony. She has to keep the sensation of her feet as she connects and becomes one with the gentle breeze that carries the winds of change through her spirit so that she might release all her fears to serenity. There is no time to think about the dogs coming back. She has to focus on the warmth of the sun, the strength of the sea and the vital energy that is mother earth. She has to allow herself to be filled with this energy and radiate THIS energy.
In her meditation she saw herself, standing in this place, under this tree, as strong as the roots she was standing on. She asked Eileithyia the Goddess of Childbirth to bless her with a perfect birth. And as if to say yes, in return a soft mist of dew in a sweet breeze again gently kissed her body and soothed its fingers through the locks of her hair.
She has been having contractions for about 3 hours now prior to this moment. Before the dogs they were gentle contractions that she just took as a cue for practicing the deep relaxation techniques she learned from the mothers. Leaning there in that moment, it felt beautiful, the breeze rushing over her skin, her eyes closed and total focus on deep calm. Pat’rah was totally in her inner world, just her and her baby.
With each surge of tightening across her womb, her relaxation deepened and more waters poured out as great confirmation that she was opening more and more and she was soon overtaken by a primal birthing urge… when she then got on her knees. The contractions became more intense all she could do was remain focused on her deep breathing. Reaching between she could feel the crown of her baby’s head. Right then an owl who was watching from the tops of the tree flew right down in front of her and looked her straight in the eyes as if to simply say “look at me” so she took a deep breath in through her nostrils and followed the owl’s cue, then breathed out through her mouth. She did this repeatedly for several minutes. This brought her back to her place of bliss and control. Rocking back and forth, she then changed positions a couple times more, until she found the right position. She moved herself into a squatting position as her baby’s head continued to crown.
In the last moment of contractions, she gazed out at the forest of trees and focused all her attention on the breeze gently swaying the leaves and branches. Pat’rah connected with their deep rooted strength and with that began to inhale and exhale and she grabbed onto the vines hanging on either side of her. Wrapping her wrists in the vine she gripped tighter and inhaled and exhaled and breathed her baby down, again she continued to inhale and exhale barely pushing at all, her body did all the work with each surge. And then suddenly, there she was lying on the vibrant colors in front of her a little Goddess. Pat’rah placed her hand on her baby’s chest and said “Welcome my Queen”. We have done it. We are both good and strong. In one more motion Pat’rah pushed out the afterbirth.
She picked up the little Goddess, blew air into her lungs and held her close. How beautiful she is. Her spirit is calming like the sea. She just sits and smiles at me. Not a whimper not a wail… only a love for life, a vision of perfection. Pat’rah chewed off the connecting cord with her teeth and gathered drops of blood from the placenta filling a tiny vial she wore on a string around her neck. She then buried the placenta in the same ground as the rest of the Goddesses before her at the base of the Calabash Tree. This was her duty, to return the placenta, which is no longer needed, back to the land connecting the new born with Mother Earth and the ancestors of old.
Lifting her baby above her head she pinches the babe on the left ankle to evoke the spirits of the goddesses through her first cry…She begins chanting
"Shemarie tsu bingwa-to… Bnygnme isha-zo
Yemaya, Erzulie,Hathor, Oshun…
Daughters of the Greatness…Goddess of eternity…
Be in me as I am in you ….release your eternal powers to this new you.
Ihsandre…mykunosi…Asharet Eskanet Ma Ze Pwu…"
After the chanting, Pat’rah is now ready to set out on her journey for shelter. There was not much time. She wraps the babe in the colorful garment and then secures her to her breast. She gripped the vine of the Calabash tree and in one swift motion she swung to the opposite side of the mountain. Upon touchdown, without time to spare she began to run. She had until the noon sun to prepare the altar. Along the way she gathered preparations for the transition. She had to prepare a ritual bath of herbs, oils and stones to release this body back to the earth without any transference of a human aberrant nature.
And surely enough as prophesied, there it was, she has found the cave along the side of the mountain that the daughters of the sun spoke of. She hears the sound of her mother goddess voice speaking over her in infancy “…and you shall be called back to the mountain of the tree of the goddess and in the womb of the mountain you shall enter and receive in you your destiny…”
It’s ingress was camouflaged by copse of vines but once Pat’rah encountered the noon sunlight directly above her and cast the shadow of her “goddessence” upon the vines, suddenly it precipitously exposed itself to her. The cave’s opening had been secured from plain sight. She gingerly observed her surroundings to see if danger was near and peeked inside. When she saw that all was well she walked into the cave and immediately behind her the entrance was closed. Terrified she looked behind her to see the entrance shutting and turned back to try to stop the wall from sealing but it was already closed. When she realized there was nothing she could do she closed her eyes and turned back around and began to walk deeper into the cave. She closely observed the cave and she saw in a few feet a watercourse flowing from the most beautiful crystalline waterfall and within it was the Sword of the Eternal Flame. She gasped in amazement and said to herself, “it is real…” Pat’rah began to inhale in the quintessence of infinity. She sensed the manifestation of her origin emergent inside her soul. And the babe that she held was pressed close to her bosom their heartbeats in unison she looks down at the child and smiled… Pat’rah began to experience all the powers of the creator in her being. She had been told of this day from the day she was born and how she was going to have to experience death, rebirth and everything in between... Every legend and every prophecy about her was being fulfilled in this very moment. The first words were uttered to her by her Great Mother Self… You Must Remember Who You Are! The Promise of Eternity Lives In YOUR Womb. YOU ARE ETERNITY!!!
She knew what to do. It was in her. She gently kiss and lay the babe down on the floor of the cave at the mouth of the stream. The baby sweetly looking up at her cooing and kicking. She knew what to do. Affirmatively, IT was in her. She began to undress. She took off her tribal garments and removed all her jewelry piece by piece. Each one had its own specific meaning. Off her ears she took the earrings made of pearls and gold, her mother had given her when she’d come of age and off her neck she took the medallion of the ages and etched in it’s beauty was the name of every goddess before her who transitioned and soon her name would be there as well. Off her waist came the chains that signified her goddessence of years and off her wrists were the bangles from every goddess before her, off her toes and ankles were the silver thong anklets which chimed when she danced before the men in her village and off her fingers were the four rings of time representing the elements of the Earth and from her nose she took the diamond representing the stars of heaven. She Unwrapped her goddess locks layer by layer as in her culture a woman was to wrap her locks up into a hive on top of her head and the larger the hive and the more steadily balanced the woman can hold her head and be graceful no matter what, the more respected and revered she is in her tribe. After loosening the last layer in one deliberate motion she gave a swing of her neck and shoulders the locks lassoed gloriously around her head and then dropped like the vines of the calabash tree straight down to the backs of her heels.
She picked up the babe and stepped into the stream of the water and she washed herself and the baby together. She sprinkled the water over the baby’s head and washed off all the blood massaging away the oil from the birth off the baby’s skin and all the clotted mats out of her hair. As they stood under the waterfall her blisters healed and the wounds from birthing were healed, the cord on the babe was healed and as they bathed the Sword of the Eternal Flame illuminated the sacred waters. The fall of the sacred waters began to spring forth from her breasts. Pat’rah sits on a rock underneath the waterfall and begins to nurse the babe. “What a delightful feeling this is? She thought? The event was perfect in every way. Just for that moment, Pat’rah wished she could be in this place forever.
Stepping out of the water, baby sleeping now, Pat’rah knows what she has to do. Her instructions are written within her DNA. While holding the sleeping baby tight, with a branch from the shrub she gathered before she entered the cave, she draws a circle in the centermost space in the cave. Then Pat’rah placed her mat and the stones and the herbs, right in the center of the circle. Directly above the circle in the top of the cave is an aperture. She can see right through to the heavens and the sun is shining brightly from that opening in the mountain. She knew that Olorun the Sky God was watching over her and protecting her in that very moment. It is through this aperture in the cave that her Goddessence would receive her. In the preparation of the sphere within, she swept the sphere without. She built an altar with the rocks and drew water from the stream with the bowl. She traced the sacred symbol of YEHO in the air with intention. One by one she began to cleanse all of the holy items necessary for use on the Altar.
When done, Pat’rah lays the baby down in the center of the circle and she kneels in front of her and begins to say…Bright Blessings, O daughter of the Elements: Air (she brings out the incense), Fire (she brings out the charcoal), Water (taken from the stream) and Earth ( she brings out the salt) As she places all these things on the Altar she says---I will cast out from thee all impurities and negative influences, whatever the mode it be. She does this because every person is born with a natural enemy to her soul. This evil spirit will attempt to dwell within the spirit of the child throughout their life. It comes from whatever negative energy that the mother allowed entering into the womb while she was pregnant.
Pat’rah begins casting the Circle. Beginning at the North, she raises the babe and says “I dedicate this ritual birth to our Mother Earth that She grants us passing to the realm between Universe and Goddessence.” Walking deosil she points the head of the child down to the ground and walks the outer edge of the circle – She drops of her own blood and blood from the placenta around the outer edge of the circle and takes fire from the eternal blue flame and it ignites the circle growing a flame large and strong and marking the Circle in the traces the blood has left behind – “this marks the boundaries of our sacred space”, she whispers to the babe. As Pat’rah chants the flames continue to outline their Circle. They will complete the ring at the point of the beginning with all chanting the sacred words of our Great Mother Goddess through finish.
She then cut the ring thrice around to keep love in and evil out. She adds salt to water, dedicate it to our Mother Earth at the North then she walks the circle again feeding the blue flame drops of blood. The wall of fire growing towards the heavens as she continues to chant.
In the flame you can see the image of the first trinity of the Goddess YEHO who begins the chant… “Water and Earth where thou are cast, no adverse spell or purpose last. Hear my word, accord with me and as I will so whatever mode it be.”
She takes the burning incense, dedicate it to Mother Earth at the North then her and the babe walk the circle again feeding once again the blue flame Circle. The wall of fire is growing higher and higher as she chant.
In the flame you can see the image of the second trinity of the Goddess YEHO who begins the chant… "Creature of fire this charge I lay, No phantom in thy presence stay, hear my word accord with me and as I will so mote it be."
Pat’rah begins to sweep out the negative energy from the cave and any negative energy she may have encountered within herself. She begins to sweep the room in the direction opposite the sun. She begins to state her intentions with every motion...
“I will return to my ancestors, and prove the truth of the light. From the light I have come and to the light I will return. I have lived out this portion of my story and have accomplished great things. Now I must go back to the unknown and get the rest of the instructions for my last and final journey here before I am translated into the resurrected Goddess YEHO.
She pondered about all the transitions taken by the Goddess over the millennia as told to her by the elders. And here she is now making this journey time and time again. This will be the seventh and the last time.
The Goddesses of old sing the song of the Warrior and dance around the circle in the flame. One trinity after the next they all sing! Aye Na!! Abimba boleya olaye Abimba boleyashe Tundaikai Abimba boleya ola Ye!! Aye Na!! Abimba boleya olaye Abimba boleyashe Tundaikai Abimba boleya ola Ye!! Aye Na!! Abimba boleya olaye Abimba boleyashe Tundaikai Abimba boleya ola Ye!! Aye Na!! Abimba boleya olaye Abimba boleyashe Tundaikai Abimba boleya ola Ye!!
And the dancing intensifies and faster and louder and harder and stronger their voices in unison sing the song of the warrior. And suddenly Pat’rah lets go of her spirit. The ray of sun shone through the aperture down on Pat’rah. She transcends into eternity. Only the babe lay in the center of the circle.
Queen Akilah YOHE-RA is the pseudonym of Patricia A. Elliott, a 2015 Open Buffalo Emerging Leader.