12,000 Babies Delivered by Jesusita!
September is perhaps my favorite month of the year in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A distinct change of season accompanies the flip of the calendar, awakening the senses with and orgasmic array of sensual joy. A crisp coolness licks the surface of my skin as I rise in the early morning and step outside to gaze directly into the sun’s center as it lifts off from the horizon. It feels good, the coolness, a subtle shift as I feel my soul lean towards a quieter more inward season, relieved to leave the robust activity of the hot summer behind me. My walks in my country suburban neighborhood of Eldorado are accompanied by visitations of brilliant flowers along the dirt roadsides. Salmon colored coppermallow stands stately amongst the abundant and spectacular yellow gold chamisa with its silver blue narrow leaves. The lilac purple asters and prolific sunflowers assist; together they create a roadside aisle of breathtaking pleasure, silhouetted by the softer straw yellow and crimson red prairie grasses of the southwest plains. The azure blue skies add another astounding dimension of contrasting colors to complete the Land of Enchantment painting I’m blessed to walk through.
Besides my walks and early morning sun gazing, my week has been saturated with memories of the homebirth of my daughter twenty years ago in the nearby valley of Tesuque, the vibrant colors of the September landscape the backdrop for my labor. At one point, I was outside squatting during contractions and as I opened my eyes, I came to find myself greeted by a lush stand of purple asters a few inches from my face. I felt the essence of the aster transfer strength, courage and a lightness of being into my laboring body. Aster became my daughter’s middle name, which in Greek, means “a star.”
This week has also saturated my imagination with the story of Jesusita Aragon, a legendary “partera” or midwife who in her 77 years of midwifery delivered more than 12,000 babies in the region of Las Vegas, New Mexico. “How did she do that?” I wondered! The timing of receiving this book from a close friend and having the time to read it was perfect. It just so happened that my husband and I had scheduled a retreat in the mountains outside Las Vegas, the region where Jesusita was born into a 400 year old lineage of northern New Mexico healers. In a couple of afternoons, I eagerly read “La Partera: Story of a Midwife.” It is mostly written in Jesusita’s words, as transcribed from a compilation of taped interviews by the author, Fran Leeper Buss. I invite you to read “La Partera.” Jesusita will touch your heart with the story of the challenging conditions of frontier living, single parenting and the loss of most of her family members, including her mother at age 10. She will also inspire you with her humility, wisdom and love for the many families of her community that she tirelessly and unconditionally cared for. Though she passed several years ago, Jesusita is alive for me as a mentor and a revered ancestor in the lineage of women healers of northern New Mexico. Check out this wonderful youtube of Jesusita.
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