Where the Mountains Meet: The Womb

For as long as I can remember, my mothers and I would hike a trail that our close clan of women had named The Womb. By the time I could comprehend the significance of naming a place in nature The Womb, meaning had already been assigned to this place: I had no hand in creating it, only maintaining and reconstructing. It is explicitly feminine and sacred. At some point, I asked one of my mothers why The Womb was named as it was. At this time, I assumed that everyone who set foot on the trail also called this place by its “true” name. My mothers proceeded to recount how our friend, Janice, began calling this place The Womb because, when she hiked in it, she imagined that the feeling must be similar to that of life before birth in the womb of your mother. She said that the pine trees arching across the narrow path created a sheltered, dark, quiet space, much like the wombs of our mothers.

For me, this place was inherently sacred, passed down from my mothers. But for our friend Janice, at least it seems to me, she experienced a connection with this space so intense and spiritual that she gave language to it through a name that would be used among women in our circle. Through this language, she gave us the ability to experience The Womb in a more complete construction of reality. While I was reading Lane’s article, there were many occasions when my favorite memories of hiking The Womb came to mind. Specifically the sections where Lane discusses the possibility of nature itself having language, or at least the ability to communicate. As Lane claims in his article, “Language arises from the very flesh of the world around us” (73). There have been times that I was standing on boulders or with my body in the water and I swore that something was speaking but it always seems that I’m not quite calibrated to understand what is being said. Or perhaps the communication that takes place isn’t meant to be understood in a message, only to be heard or felt or for its presence to be recognized. I don’t have the language available to accurately describe the feeling this place evokes except that it is very real and very strong. This further reinforces my belief that some spaces posses a sacredness that is discovered through the language used to understand it and make it a part of human reality, as well as openness to feeling a connection to the space.

This reading and the connection I made with it and The Womb also brought to mind the potential significance a space possesses when different kinds of people are drawn there. Among my family and friends, the experiences are both personal and strikingly similar in terms of the emotions evoked by being in the presence of the place. “…their experience was not simply inside their heads but was some how shared in a particular moment by everything around them” (Lane 56). Perhaps this is a result of the way in which the meaning of The Womb was constructed and reinforced or maybe there is a sacred draw felt by those who enter the space with open eyes.

 

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-Emma Brachtenbach

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