Saturday, April 21, 2018
Surrogacy and Traditional Lakota Views on being "W'akú Wičoni." Gives Life.
I have been asked before, both in person and in interview about how I navigate surrogacy and my traditional culture as an Oglala Lakota woman. I am Khanawake Mohawk and Oglala Lakota but I will be speaking today on sacred femininity and surrogacy as a straight Cis-gender Lakota woman. We also believe in the two spirit community, which I have carried a baby for two gay men as well, but today I will be speaking on the subject of surrogacy and infertility.
In Lakota tradition, men are the protectors, and women are the sacred life givers. Now some of you may bristle at the notion of hearing men called Protectors because you tie the idea of a protector to the colonial root idea of a protector being defensive because of ownership. In Lakota culture, the Men are protectors because our women are sacred, not because they are owned by anyone. We as women have been chosen by Creator to usher in souls from the spirit world. This is a task that has only been entrusted to women. Our physical bodies become literal portals where Creator plants the soul and we nourish that tiny body and soul into existence. Paula Hornem, wife of Chief Arvol Looking Horse once told me that the soul resides in the belly. Life begins in the belly, and so our souls reside there. That is why when we are nervous, or excited or feel sadness, that feeling starts in our bellies. Our bellies are the beginnings of many things, traditionally the time a woman begins her moon or her period is a time celebrate! It is an ushering in of responsibility that is both holy and unmatched. Women are cleansed every month in ceremony through the ritual bleeding of her menstruation, where as our men need sweat ceremonies to cleanse. So yes.. our men are protectors to our women, because they honor us and the very sacred job we have.
But how does this traditional view apply to being a surrogate?
When I felt called to be a surrogate, I was very much aware of the fact that this would be a spiritual calling for me. From the very beginning I knew that my Creator was deeply rooted in the draw I felt to help couples. I want to address another notion I feel is sensitive in this discussion, infertility. Hearing that the ability to carry a child or create life is "sacred" might be hurtful to women who learn that they cannot carry a child, or create life within their wombs, but to this I would like to raise an idea... I believe that women who CANNOT carry life within their wombs are just as much givers of life as their sisters who give physical birth..and here's why. When I act as a physical surrogate for a women who cannot carry a child, I am surrendering my physical body to her. SHE IS USHERING IN THE SPIRIT. Let me repeat that.... SHE is ushering in the spirit of her child. The gate way that spirit child walks was still made by her. It was made in her prayers. In her belly and heart. It was made in the physical DNA that she placed in my womb. In many ways I view her work as twice as hard as mine. Her spiritual exhaustion is fully encompassing. She is working to bring that soul earth-side with every nervous pace, and phone call. Every prayer and tear. That is her labor. That is her life giving. I am just the physical womb that I have given to her for the task. How sacred, how beautiful is that bond to think of all the women on this earth as sisters and life givers. This also applies to adoption! In most (not all) tribes in the US, adoption to children outside the tribe is fully embraced, and those children are considered members of that tribe! You mothers who have adopted are givers of life in this same way. You are sacred and you have labored into your motherhood.
So yes, I am W'akú Wičoní. Gives life. Surrogacy is the physical and sacred act of ushering life into this world through love and sacrifice. It is using my sacred ability for good. It is new in comparison to life giving throughout history, but Creator is the leader in finding new ways to do ancient and amazing things.