09 Sep Tree of Eve
Midwifery is the oldest recorded profession and the activities of the ancient Hebrew midwives Shifra and Puah were written down over two thousand years ago. Since the beginning of the midwifery tradition the three entities a midwife cared for were, the birthing woman, the newborn baby and the placenta. The placenta was seen as the Tree of Life and held a sacred and symbolic position with placenta burial rituals being common in many native and indigenous cultures. The placenta was usually buried near the base of a tree or planted with a seed so that a tree could grow from this spot and the child could return there for the rest of their life as a safe haven.
In this way a permanent birthing symbol was recorded to reflect knowledge of the birth itself and the ceremonial event for the community. It was thought that the planting of the placenta was a time for spiritual growth for both the newborn and their parents as ancestors were called upon to guide the baby and adults in their journey as a new family. Once the tree began to grow at the site of the placenta it was considered a sacred space where the presence of guides could be felt and consulted. Other Native American tribes would cover the placenta in sweet grass and sage and then wrap it in a tanned buffalo hide for keeping. When the placenta was finally buried prayers of protection for the baby and mother were recited.
Today midwives continue to assess the placenta for signs of overall health or concern of illness for both mother and baby. It is possible after birth to create your own ritual for the placenta from pausing to notice its shape and condition to requesting to take it home for burial or encapsulation. Awareness of our bodies is empowering and simply asking what is being done with the placenta after birth expands consciousness. By only asking this question you can open a space to decide for yourself how you want to recognize and honor the placenta as ‘Tree of Life’ with a vital role in supplying life force to mother and baby.