Mural by Claudia LaBlanca
Driving back and forth from home to work, I often see the same mural. It’s of a pregnant warrior woman on a boat to some unknown destination with two women rowing beside her. To me I thought it was absolutely perfect depiction of pregnancy, but I just couldn’t put into words why.
Then one day it struck me while watching the beginning credits of a movie. There is a bit of a backstory so bare with me here. The beginning credits featured a logo of TSG Entertainment. It features Odysseus’ of the The Odyssey shooting an arrow with his bow through a row of axes, thus proving his identity and defeating the suitors. Below is the logo.
The logo astounded me as the perfect symbology for an entertainment company. Homer’s The Odyssey is thought to be the basis of all successful storytelling and the elements in the The Illiad and The Odyssey are still present in popular stories today. It is one of the oldest written stories (first it was a song) and over 5,000 pages long. From this, Joseph Campbell constructed the monomyth or the Hero on the Journey.
The Basic Elements are:
- Call to Adventure
- Impossible Task
- Journey into Katabasis (hell or abyss)
Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Walking Dead, every major story that exists to day has these major archetype elements within. So now to the point, what does this have to do with the mural and pregnancy? The way it feels to become a parent, the journey we go through all of these things can leave us feeling like heroes on our own journey. A hero which is so literally depicted by this mural, is every woman on her path to motherhood .
We can’t do it alone, we have our sidekicks (friends, family, doulas) our mentors (midwifes, doctors) and our seemingly impossible task. To some this is literal, they’ve been told that they couldn’t birth without medication or have a dark fear of labor itself with an epidural. The pregnant woman goes into her katabasis metaphorically pushed to her limits where she has to reach inside to her most deepest pockets of strength. Afterwards, not only is she rewarded with a beautiful new baby she is literally transformed into someone that couldn’t (or thought they couldn’t) to someone who can and DID. She is the HERO in her own right. The hero who literally gave birth to life (inconsequential how that life came into this world). She is rebirthed a MOTHER. That is the empowerment of birth. That is the significance of this mural, that is why it always griped me.
Sometimes like in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the journey doesn’t end. A new impossible task takes shape. Lack of sleep, adjustment to a new lifestyle, daily life, postpartum depression can all be the new journey we have to take. We battle the dark side, we battle our demons. For some it’s easy, for some it’s hard. But in the end this is YOUR journey. YOURS alone.
Enjoy your journey, regardless you’ll come out a hero in your own right.