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Sacred Rituals for Birth: Lotus Birth



The last and most challenging ritual Parvati shared with us was the Lotus Birth. The Lotus birth is a ritual where the umbilical cord and placenta are not cut away from the baby. They are dried with herbs and eventually separated a few days later. It gets dry enough that it can easily broken away. I was definitely not ready for this one when I first learned about it! Kate was. She did a Lotus birth with Jacob.


Two years later, when I was pregnant with Danielle, I felt called to welcome all the rituals of birth that had been shared. And I, too, had a Lotus birth with her. Needless to say, my husband Ronnie was not pleased, but he had finally given up trying to change me. 


I was ready and the birth was all I had hoped for, a healthy baby, an underwater birth that was magical, and the Lotus birth. When I stood up after Ronnie delivered Danielle into my arms, the placenta came out as we gingerly walked from the bathroom to the bed. Baby, cord, and placenta were all attached, but not to me. As we prepared for the Lotus birth, I had a friend who did pottery make me a bowl to put the placenta in. We had the herbs of frankincense, myrrh, and goldenseal to treat the placenta. Goldenseal was used as a drying agent. It was amazing how quickly it dried up the umbilical cord.  


The work of cleaning, smudging, and rubbing in the herbs was a task for Kate to perform. The goldenseal was applied all the way to the baby’s belly button. The challenge was having to move the placenta in the bowl with the baby every time we switched sides to nurse. The bowl became lighter and lighter as it dried out over the 36 hours that Danielle was attached to her placenta.


After 36 hours, I was able to gently split the dried cord, much like breaking a green stick, and free the placenta. For the piece of cord that was still attached, I continued to dust it with goldenseal and it dried into a circle and dropped off after three days. Danielle’s cord dropped off faster than it had with my other two children, who had theirs for about a week. The drying effect from the goldenseal was evident and less painful for the baby too. The alcohol I had used in prior births left the baby crying for a short time, but not the goldenseal. 


The placenta, which should have been putrefied, was placed in a pot of dirt and topped with a rubber tree plant. Six months after Danielle was born we moved to Baltimore and then on to our final home in Chapel Hill, NC. The dirt that had been merged with the placenta was placed into the dirt outside our front door. The home was ours until Danielle went off to college and came to visit with her first child. I have since left that home and moved to the farm I shared with my late husband, Sun. 


Years after I had the Lotus birth, I read in one of Parvati’s newsletters that Clare Lotus Day had passed when a wind storm in the Santa Cruz mountains blew a tree onto her car and killed her instantly. Up to that point, I had not known where the ritual of the Lotus birth had come from or the name of the woman who created it. The story, as I read or heard it, was that Clare came to Parvati and shared this ritual not of the past but of the future. She said that there was to be no cutting instruments in the birthing room, no knives, scissors, or cut flowers. That the baby and its first food (coming through the placenta) was sacred. That the baby would not be cut from its knowledge that we all come from goddess/god. That the third eye would remain open and that the child would never forget our connection to the Divine.


Now, as I write this, Danielle is 36 and a mother of four. I am not sure if she feels that this ritual shaped her. All I can truly say is she is a kind, gentle, mother with a strong spiritual presence. And she has been that way throughout her life. 


A funny addition to the story is Danielle was sharing this story with her husband, David, and remarked that her umbilical cord is still wrapped up and saved in a box in their basement. David remarked incredulously, “Really?! Your umbilical cord is in our basement?” David is a physician and this is outside the realm of medical protocol. This is unusual and to this day I will say I may not know all about the Lotus birth and its meaning and effect. 


The last four Sacred Birthing and Sacred Rituals blogs are dedicated to the memory of Parvati. This is her resting place at Mystic Hot Springs in southern Utah.

Book - Lotus Birth compiled by Shivam Rachana

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