Thursday, September 15, 2011

My Personal Perceptions of Eir (so far)

A lot of folks know that I'm training to be a home birth midwife. The treatment I received (and in some instances, did not receive) from my ob-gyn and the hospital staff was despicable and sadistic. Wanting to give that pain a purpose. I took training for Mother Massage, and now I'm training to serve as a midwife, fulfilling an oath taken in sumble this past Yule (2010). 

I took another oath earlier in the day, privately, to dedicate this year to Eir. My daughter happened to have a very bad respiratory infection, a terrible cough, and was prescribed a nebulizer to help her breathing. There was a moment during blot before the swine was sent forth to the gods (later consumed in the feast), when we had the opportunity to go up to it, say a prayer if we wished, ask it to carry any messages with it. etc. Silently, as I touched the beast, I asked for Eir's intercession on my daughter's behalf, and swore an oath to dedicate this year to honoring Eir. (Incidentally, my daughter recovered both completely and swiftly.)

In my mind, this meant creating altar/shrine dedicated to her, leaving offerings, learning as many aspects of health and healing as possible, fulfilling the related oath of going to midwifery school, and etc. I also saw this as naturally requiring a lot of meditation and contemplation, since there is next to nothing in the lore about Eir, beyond her being the "best of leeches" (best of physicians). This also means that anything thing I believe I know about her is pure UPG (unverifiable personal gnosis), and is only my perception of her. 

I perceive Eir to be purposeful, focused, and capable of handling any emergency without getting frazzled. She is the calm in the middle of a storm, able to balance necessity (which is not always pleasant) with deep compassion. This surprised me, as I have heard others describe her "bedside manner" as being cold and aloof. I suppose this is why UPGs must come with the caveat of "Your mileage may vary". However, I wonder if that perception of her by some is somewhat a subconscious reflection of preconceived notions based on the often cold and sometimes cruel and dehumanizing treatment patients receive in many (certainly not all) hospitals by all levels of hospital staff from CNAs to physicians. 

What does being "best of leeches" mean? I understand Eir to be an expert in any and all forms of health care and wellness. She will use whatever the best method to heal someone, no matter what type/form of medicine or from what culture may have developed it. That may bump some folks, and people are free to disagree. However, my interpretation of what kind of philosophy Eir may have is this: the more a skills a healer can have, the better for the patients. I don't know a single health and/or wellness provider that would avoid a viable therapy because it came from a culture other than their own. These methods would include (but are not limited to):
  1. Modern medicine (surgical procedures, diagnostics, prescription pharmaceuticals, physical therapy, etc.)
  2. Natural and traditional health care (herbal medicines, midwifery,natropathy, massage, nutrition, chiropractic, etc.)
  3. Emotional and mental health (counseling, grief process, depression, mood disorders, self-esteen, self-help, etc.)
  4. Energy medicine (accupressure/accupuncture, reiki, vibrational and sound healing, etc)
I have had to rely on imagination for ideas for offerings, as there is little lore to go on. Often, I chose to have white roses at my Eir shrine. When people are in the hospital, it's common to bring flowers to cheer them up. I chose white as it is reminiscent to me of clean, white bed linens, traditional nurse's uniforms, and doctor's coats. However, at other times, I would place fresh herbs or burn dried herbs.  

There have also been many unexpected things that have happened since dedicating this year to Eir. I have been in just the right places and just the right times to face a lot of old issues, angers, and old hurts that I didn't even know I held. I was forced to come face to face with parts of myself I have ignored and avoided. I have been stressed to the point that I broke down into tears. I cried and cried, in a way I haven't ever done before. I screamed, punched pillows, and just surrendered to the moment and let the tears come. Afterwards. there was a much deeper understanding of myself and a stillness. I felt empty, but in a good way. After a few days to feel more settled, it was time to fill the emptiness, but with ideas and beliefs of my choosing.  

I'm still in that process, choosing the thoughts and beliefs that help and not hurt me. I feel different, but exactly how is hard to describe. I feel like myself. Not "I feel like myself, again." Rather, "I feel like myself, finally." My values and priorities haven't changed, but I approach my life and goals from a different starting point. That starting point is still in flux, there are still things shifting inside, and probably more layers of old thinking to replace. Feeling like myself "finally" isn't final. Free of fetters, I can now be myself. Only time will tell what that might turn out to be.

I attribute this purging of old hurts, this healing of old wounds, and consequently, this shifting within myself to Eir. I cannot prove it is her handiwork, but it's my interpretation of events that began 9 and a half months ago. The timing of these events, so far lasting a little over 9 months, should be plainly symbolic. In some ways, I do feel reborn, but still somewhat unsteady. I look forward to the remaining 3 months, and most likely will renew this oath at Yule this year.