Matriarch midwives cocktail party

Since the pandemic was first acknowledged in the early months of 2020, a handful of midwives have been regularly gathering for a virtual cocktail party. I call them the Matriarch Midwives. Why that title? Because they are each in their sixties or seventies, they have fulfilled a lifelong commitment to a matriarchal system of healing known in its modern iteration as midwifery, and they descend from a lineage as old as the human race. I call them Matriarchs as a designation for the leader of a family, tribe, clan or network, and because of the influential roles they have played in our profession, our communities, our world. They are practitioners, educators, entrepreneurs, activists, leaders, visionaries, ambassadors, authors, shakers-and-movers, and now, elders in the movement. 

There are thousands of Matriarch Midwives on Planet Earth. I feel blessed to call a few hundred of them my friends.

International Confederation of Midwives Governing Council Meeting, 2017

Now, every two weeks on Friday at 4 PM Pacific and 7 PM Eastern Time, a small group of Matriarch Midwives connects to Zoom for a cocktail party. Who even heard of Zoom before the pandemic? Now it is a lifeline for many of us. We gather from California, Texas, Michigan, and more recently, Ontario.    

The Matriarch Midwives have each intentionally walked a path that is devoted to the cycles of women’s bodies, the seasons, phases of the moon, and the fertility and bounty of the earth. They not only share the profession of midwifery, but also a dedication to keeping the traditions of the Great Mother Goddess—the benevolent feminine life force revered by people around the world—alive and accessible.  

Each of us has been born, and each of us will die. We cannot escape this fate. Humans across the planet have always sought to make meaning of these two universal yet polar opposite experiences.

Life and Death Tree, by Muhammad, posted on BBC website

The Matriarch Midwives have guided people through birth and death, and many of the seasons of growth and harvest between those two bookends. They have devoted their lives and their lifeblood to making the essential passages safe, and meaningful, and satisfying to the people they serve. 

But on Friday nights in 2020 we have been serving ourselves—mostly wine, occasionally gin, sparkling water for the on-call midwives—and engaging in conversations about life, celebrating the joy of being alive, sharing a virtual ‘cheers.’ 

At my home in Leelanau County, Michigan

In the fall of 2018, in the autumn of our years, five of the Midwife Matriarchs made a journey to a trilogy of places in the Mediterranean. Our destinations were the ancient Goddess temples in Malta; the rich cultural vibe in Barcelona; and the nature lover’s paradise on the island of Menorca. The journey was astounding; it became a pilgrimage. The dazzling and puzzling ancient sites provided more questions than they provided answers. 

Last night on our Zoom call, among other things, we talked about what it has been like to walk in the shoes of a midwife our entire lives. We talked about the deep connections we share not only with the clients and patients for whom we provide care during peak experiences in their lives, but also the bonds we share with other midwives. It is an honor and a rare privilege to be connected to a network of healers that crisscrosses the planet and reaches forward and backward in time. 

Megalithic temple of Ħaġar Qim on the island of Malta, Ġgantija phase circa 3600 BCE, Fall Equinox, 2018. Matriarch midwives Joan, Maggie, Kaley, Diane & Gera. World Heritage Site.

While kneeling amongst ancient temples and genuflecting to the ancestors, we made little altars everywhere we went. Cradled in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, the prayer we repeated over and over was this simple invocation.

“Bless the people, all people everywhere. Bless those who give birth, those who care for our birthgivers, and those who nurture and raise our children. Bless the earth, our mother, for she sustains and protects all life. Bless the seas, they teach us to flow with the changing tides. Bless all living beings, for each one is sacred, and each deserves to be safe and free from harm. In gratitude, please bless all of this.”

And so it is.     

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