The Hero’s Journey is a simplified template that contains the elements of a story.
According to Joseph Campbell, it involves moving from a known world to an unknown world, loosely following along a predictable story arc. Building off of his great work was Stanislav Grof, who posited that while a fetus is still floating in the mother’s amniotic fluid, it begins it’s first hero’s journey.
Grof and his wife are credited with developing Holotropic Breathwork and he was also a pioneer in LSD assisted psychotherapy. He divided the stories of his clients into four clusters of experience that correlated with ‘Perinatal Sequences’ call the Basic Perinatal Matrices.
/peri/ around or near
/natalis/ pertaining to birth
The Basic Perinatal Matrices
- Floating in amniotic fluid; undifferentiated from mother
- Constriction as labor initiates; ‘no exit’ situation of entrapment
- Birth canal; death/rebirth or purgatory
- Completed delivery; breakthrough; opening of crown chakra
Suppose I do remember being born. I stayed in well past my due date and came out screaming, according to my parents. I was born out of a Cesarian incision so my birth was effortless for me. Did this assisted birth mean that I was not able to develop to the potential that it would require to escape the birth canal?
Or is that the lesson? Should I be prepared to always expect the unexpected because my world could change in an instant just like it did the day I was born? Certainly I am not doomed to keep this flame of distrust for the world for the rest of my days. “Don’t get too comfortable…”, Life whispers hauntingly.
It is a deep memory; an experience only my body and subconscious remember. My waking mind will have no use for those emotions associated with never having taken the time to reflect on my entrance into this realm. Unless they are told to me in a story; a story of someone else’s strife. By perpetually injecting my mind with the resilience of my fellow man, he gives me strength. He gives me the will to continue on my own quest and to not allow a fear of the unknown to constrict me. From him, I learn which potential outcomes I might expect from obstacles lurking along my path.
But where am I going? When I left the cosmic womb it was because doctors were removing me from the only home I’d ever known. I could not stay there forever, a parasite of my own mother’s body. I detected a slight fear arising that I may not be fully prepared for this world because I was ripped from the womb. Can it be a wound to not have suffered enough on the onset, knowing this will surely disadvantage my chances of survival? My initiation into this world omitted much of the hazing process that babies tend to undergo. The runt of the litter that would become my cohort in a few years time.
My defense to them will be a cold and closed demeanor. My mother wasn’t able to hold me after they pumped her with sedatives for the operation. Rather than a warm drink of milk and skin on skin contact, I was shuffled away to have my foot was stuck by a needle. I can only speculate that my infant mind thought this world to be an awfully dreadful place based on my first impression. My parents said I cried for weeks after the experience. Do I remember? No. It makes a lot of sense though.
Originally written for Collective Journaling at The Stoa