Howl for me, Wolf Woman!
Wolf-Woman, this is so hard for me to write and share this… My husband and I started to try for a baby just a few months ago and got pregnant very quickly. I was so excited that I told friends and family before the first “official” scan. We went for the scan last week and discovered that there was no heartbeat. I am devastated and feel embarrassed for telling everyone. And, I feel pissed off about feeling embarrassed. Part of me realizes that miscarriages are more common than society “talks” about, and I think it’s ridiculous that more women don’t talk about it, or share that they are pregnant from the onset without fear of miscarriage. So I’m stuck and looking for a way out or through or into this grieving, embarrassment, guilt and anger.
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Our language is often pitifully insufficient when the wounding is great, and I fear my words are incapable of describing the depth of my empathy for you. The loss of a pregnancy is an ancient, human hurt that affects the Holy Feminine uniquely, with the social stigma surrounding this wound sustained by systemic patriarchy. I will offer you the medicine of words and ritual, but please know that the grieving process is a deeply personal one; should any recommendation I offer feel inauthentic to you, absolutely remember that the best healer’s remedy is brewed by the one who needs it.
You are positively infallible, my love. You have made no mistake. There has been no misstep. You have not mis-carried, as even the word implies fault on the mother’s biology. Know that matters of the womb have been the subject of heated contention for millennia, and indeed much of the subjugation women have experienced has been sourced directly from mechanisms of womb-control. The dominion of the uninitiated masculine, that is the mentality of power-hunger, ego-dominance, material greed, and blind consumption that has wounded our world so deeply, has insidiously injected much stigma over pregnancy loss into our collective, sociocultural beliefs. I could continue by delving into the origins of patriarchy, with male ownership of the womb perceived as necessary in order to ensure the legal continuation of bloodlines and the proper inheritance of property (George, 1992), but I feel this would not serve you now. I will, however, say this with all the certainty I have: Your womb, your body, is yours and yours alone, and you are absolutely blameless in all occurrences concerning that sacred, sacral space.
Within the Triple Goddess archetype, the generative Mother is the aspect of the feminine that is most socially acceptable, followed by the sensual Maiden and, lastly, the wise Crone. Our society will accept a person with open arms as long as they being highly creative, producing some great thing that will nourish the collective, but it is those non-Mother parts of the feminine which are comparatively shunned. The Maiden is connected to the Earth; she is sensual, emotional, and unpredictable. The Crone is a still, spiritually awake creature who revels in solitude and darkness. I believe much of the stigma surrounding pregnancy loss as well as much of the guilt women who lose a pregnancy feel is born from this: Women are told they are less-than who they should be if they are not generative mothers. Even children are told they must constantly be doing something productive, with aspects of the exploratory Maiden and quiet Crone suppressed within our psyches in the name of acceptance by family and, later, our peers. By extension, the woundings of pregnancy loss, fertility struggles, and even the choice to not have children strike very deeply into the soil of the feminine psyche, for all of these unconsciously threaten us with potential abandonment.
I will tell you now that I also lost a pregnancy, though my story is very different from yours, and I will not pretend that my wounding was similar; it was not, but it was a particular heart-break from which I do not believe I could have healed, at least not in a short time, without ritual.
In Sacred Ceremony by Steven Farmer (2002), a book I recommend highly for creating self-designed ceremonies, the author describes ritual as a means of pulling the divine closer to home. In times of grief, we long for the great, cosmic Mystery to offer us some sort of explanation. We demand for our sadness, rage, and sacrifice to be recognized, and even those who claim no knowledge of divinity or the afterlife will whisper-pray benedictions to their dead. Do not ignore a loss you feel deeply simply because others tell you to move passed it, and do let the Holy take part in your healing if it feels right for you to do so.
I am going to resist telling you how to go about your ritual design, my love, for I believe there is often as much healing power in the ceremony’s design as there is in its practice. Affirm yourself as the High Priestess, though; if it feels right to include your partner in the ceremony, do so, but it may feel more authentic to practice it within the sanctuary of solitude. For me, I designed a very elaborate ritual I moved through intermittently over several days, completely on my own, before inviting my partner to the ceremony’s conclusion; this felt suited to my situation, but, again, hand-craft the ritual that will nourish your own soul.
Begin your design with a clear intention then decide on the best location. Outdoor spaces are naturally nourishing and healing, with moving water being particularly symbolic of the womb. Know that you cannot make any mistakes during your ritual, for it is yours and yours alone. Traditionally, a healing ceremony will have a clear beginning during which you are declaring you are present and ready for a transition to occur, middle during which the transition occurs, and conclusion when you seal the ritual. Feel free to incorporate any readings that feel right, write your own sacred benediction, sing, engage in a moving body prayer, or any other means of forging a soulful connection between you, your loss, your healing, and God-Goddess-Mystery.
You have said you are “stuck,” my love, and I have always found ritual to be a powerful force in lifting me from my depths. Do not look to feel suddenly and permanently healed, as the wounding was significant enough to leave its mark and to have its own chapter in the epic novel that is your life; when you are ready, only regard healing as meaningful integration of the wound into your soul story.
The womb-wounds of women are often their most tightly gripped secrets, and, while you certainly do not owe your story to anyone, I have found that much healing comes from bringing our experiences out of the dark. It is stories such as yours, those which validate the Maiden and the Crone as integral to the Holy Feminine, that do much to shift the social perspective in our Mother-hungry world. The loss of the feminine divine has orphaned us all into a constant, never-ending search for the Mother; in doing so, we want all women, sometimes including ourselves, to be Her and only Her. In the end, we are so much more.
You are the cosmic Mystery embodied. You are more than your wounds, more than your biology, more than a survivor, and your story deserves nothing less than limitless compassion from anyone who hears it. Thank you for sharing your experience, and many belly-born and mournful howls to you.
Yours in gratitude and solidarity,
➵ Submit your howl to email@example.com.
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Sip a little more from Danielle’s medicine:
➵ Witch, Howl Moonward:
The Timely Salve Of The Dark Primal Feminine
➵ The Wolf-Woman’s Book Of The Dead:
A Samhain Benediction
➵ Invoking Artemis: The Liberation Of Our Wild Spirituality