Birthing Into the Media
Of Fetuses, Toothy Vaginas, Satanic Cults, and Explosions
With these elements of birth experience in mind, let us look at some of the forces and elements, unprecedented and otherwise, that characterize our times.
Baby and Fetal Projections on the Silver Screen
Fetus in the sky with diamonds…and oh, the shark has pretty teeth, dear…
In these strange days, movies, TV shows, and books are rife with perinatal themes: From the famous ending image of the movie “2001,” where the fetus is pictured against the blackness of space as a newborn star…to some of the most popular and lucrative movies of all time—”Jaws,” for example, with its huge vagina dentate shark mouth lurking in the depths of the unconscious (the ocean), signifying the trauma we have around the mother’s vagina, the mouth ringed with teeth–the ferocious looking teeth symbolizing the pain and death elements of birth experience.
Other examples of perinatal imagery in the media include those in the movie “Brazil”—the main character being haunted by hordes of infant/fetal faces in particular; “The Abyss”; and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”–large-headed fetal looking aliens again.
ET, phone mom!
Psychodynamic as well as perinatal sequences are displayed in “The Wall” and “Brainstorm.” There is the fascinating womb and fetal symbolism in UFO movies like “Cocoon”; “Cocoon: The Return!”; and “E.T.”—with the fetal-looking alien wanting to “phone home.” And of course, we have seen obvious perinatal symbolism in “Independence Day,” “Fire in the Sky,” “Joe Vs. The Volcano,” “Nothing But Trouble”; and in a recurring way on weekly TV series The X Files, Star Trek, Heroes, and The 4400, among many others. [Footnote 1]
Everything you always wanted to know about being a baby
Other movies indicating the interest emerging around pre- and perinatal themes are “Look Who’s Talking” and “Look Who’s Talking Too,” which demonstrate a belief in sperm and egg, womb, and infantile consciousness far beyond what mainstream psychology wants to believe.
Also, there is the hilarious sperm sequence in Woody Allen’s “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex” in which he and a slew of others are dressed as individual sperm and dialogue about their upcoming great adventure. This idea that sperm and ovum have consciousness can also be heard occasionally in comedic monologues on television and elsewhere.
Boob Tube With a View
Speaking of television, there was that very interesting and much heralded episode of the Moonlighting series in the late Eighties which—coincidentally employing an article and book title of mine, “A Womb With a View”—showed Bruce Willis in a womb-like enclosure as a fetus viewing, with the help of a higher spiritual ally, the upcoming events of his life.This plot idea was also an amazing, perhaps synchronistic, mirror image of a short story I wrote in 1979 titled “Birthing, Forgetting.” [Footnote 2]
A hundred monkeys and counting
I point out the personal synchronicities because they speak of a “morphic resonance” phenomenon indicating ideas whose time has come. Be that as it may, the episode of Moonlighting is further proof of the growing belief in womb consciousness and interest in perinatal events.
Other perinatal elements that are currently manifesting:
Satanic cult abuse
Reports of Satanic cult abuse graphically depict BPM II perinatal elements. We hear of children and others being immobilized, tied up, and otherwise disempowered. Oftentimes they relate being forced to spend extensive periods of time trapped in tight places and/or symbolically or literally buried under ground. BPM III elements in cult abuse include the sexual excess/abuse and bloodletting or blood use as in its being poured or used in “anointing.” Cult abuse in film, as well as in real life, especially depict BPM IV elements: Cutting, hurting, torturing, sexually and ritually abusing and “sacrificing” are all very much like an infant’s perception/feelings of its experience of its being “attended” to after birth. The fact that cult rituals often involve a number of other people focusing on an individual who is strapped or held down (the immobilization prior to birth, as well as the helplessness after birth) on something raised, like an altar or table, and then “worked upon” in some way or other is a particularly graphic expression of a neonate’s experience of being on a medical table after birth, watched by a number of others and worked on.
The ritualists’ use of robes and costumes, especially if they involve covering the face or the wearing of masks, is also not that much different from the way a baby in modern times perceives its welcoming into the world among masked and robed medical personnel.
Serial rapists and killers
One can hardly turn on the tube without finding some movie or TV show that is depicting a serial killer or rapist. I do not need to belabor the flooding of news programs with the same kind of material. But the number of reports relative to victims and harm involved is far less than victims and suffering involved with other horrific events, such as hurricane, earthquake, nuclear radiation, ozone loss, or flood catastrophes, which have less or no perinatal charge about them. This preoccupation with serial violence, torture, and rape indicates BPM III elements of struggle, violence, sexual perversion and excess, as well as the death and torture aspects of being born.
Tube and Cinematic Violence Galore
Simply the amount of violence on television and in movies is a perinatal indicator. These depictions simulate, and stimulate, perinatal feelings in plot elements which are repeated to death.
Matters of life and death
We see cliched regurgitations of being in life and death situations from which one is saved in the “nick of time.” This is exactly how it seemed when one was “miraculously” born, suddenly, after what seemed an endless time of suffering in which death was felt to be the only possible outcome.
It’s not the Fourth of July, however….
You do not seem to be able to see a story that does not have explosions galore.
Such “fireworks” are examples of extreme compression suddenly becoming immense expansiveness and thus symbolize the sudden perinatal change of state from compression inside the womb to previously unknown expansiveness outside the womb as well as the sudden release of tension and compression upon being born. Explosions also symbolize the immediate assault of sensation upon coming out of the sensorally “muffled” womb.
There is lots of violence, and of course also sex. Such extreme degrees of sexual explicitness and especially sexual perversity point to strong BPM III influences.
Monsters, vaginas, and hairs, oh my!
Recurring themes of monsters that eat one, for example, The Alien movie series, indicate the feelings of fear of death in the mother’s womb. This is often portrayed as a huge, threatening mouth surrounded by teeth and, sometimes, hair. This is a symbol found throughout the world. Social scientists refer to it as a vagina dentate “mouth.”
One most obvious portrayal of this was Steven King’s 1995 miniseries, “The Longoliers.” The monsters, shown at the end, turned out to be flying, ball-shaped vagina dentates, complete with hair covering, as in pubic hair. Though Steven King meant this to be frightening, from the perinatal perspective these flying, attacking vaginas are absolutely hilarious.
Time travel equals age regression
Interestingly, the appearance of the Longoliers is caused by the characters going back in time. Though King has them going back only fifteen minutes, and not age regressing to birth, I thought the fact of time regression was telling in the extreme.
Time travel in general is indicative of the need to go back and fix the trauma of these early events. The Back to the Future series is merely one example. We all know many others.
We have ever increasing cesarean births.
While a “baby” emerging from a person’s belly is obviously indicative of birth, the fact that it comes bursting out of the belly, rather than the vagina, might also relate to the ever increasing use of cesarean section as a means of birthing in this century.
“Noah, how long can you tread water?”
We are immersed in water before birth, placental fluid. Near the end of gestation, the mother, when standing, constricts blood vessels to the fetus. This reduces the blood supply to the fetus and thus less oxygen is received. It is called fetal malnutrition. Prior to birth we humans experience suffocation and claustrophobic feelings–we “can’t get enough air”!–which seem deadly and unending.
The timelessness of prenatal experience at this point–when not getting enough air–feels horrific, an unending nightmare. This part contributes to human ideas of places of forever, endless suffering, for example, hell.
I agree, but I don’t like having it “shoved down my throat.”
I have noticed an increasing frequency of this version of suffocation in the visual media ever since I first remember seeing it in a scene from the movie Alien, where a rolled-up magazine is used as a murder weapon by being forced into the victim’s mouth. It seems to be becoming a writer/director’s fad, as increasingly creative ways are being imagined to play it out in scripts.
Told you I didn’t like vegetables!
Another common variation is when the suffocating item comes out of the person’s mouth.
In this frequent scenario, the victim is “infected” with some kind of alien spore which grows inside of him or her and comes thrusting up from inside of the person’s body and out of the mouth, lodging itself there. Often this alien extrusion looks something like a huge asparagus emerging. The perverse sexual aspect of the image also has roots in perinatal, specifically, BPM III experience.This “vegetable” eruption always happens suddenly and climactically, and almost always it results in death. Scenes like this I have observed in the movie “Jacob’s Ladder,” several times on the hit show The X Files, and in many, many other shows.
Gag me with a toxin.
This version of suffocation probably has its roots in the force-feeding of toxic elements to the fetus in the womb through the umbilical cord, and is more definitely related (the symbol is probably an amalgamation of both feelings) to the ungentle clearing of fluids from the neonate’s mouth by the attendants immediately after birth.
This latter connection–the ungentle mouth cleaning of birth fluids–I can personally validate through my own primal experiences. Apparently I was not alone in being treated this way as a newborn in the 1940s and 1950s in America…hence its popularity.
Being treated like a “piece of meat.”
This practice of ungentle mouth clearing—performed by hurried or insensitive, and uninformed, medical personnel, unaware of the consciousness and keen feeling awareness of the neonate—can leave one with lifelong feelings of being treated like a “thing.”
Many report having overwhelming feelings of being dealt with mechanically and without respect. It is common for folks to have feelings of “not being seen.” People can have lifelong body memories of having one’s mouth stretched wide. These feelings, while they may be reinforced by later life events, oftentimes have roots that go back to a time immediately after birth. At this time, too frequently, the jaw is pulled down for the insertion of fingers and suction devices. It is done in a manner that is excruciatingly painful for a being that has spent his or her entire life (nine months) previous to that in a relatively placid environment with its mouth closed.
This ungentle procedure is also felt as an assault in that it occurs, usually, as the first event a baby is confronted with upon release from the womb. Its tiny mouth—never before fully opened—is often the first focus of attention, as large fingers (relatively) reach in, stretching the previously unopened and unstretched (virgin) mouth…breaking the metaphorical oral hymen of the neonate in a way that is felt to the infant to be comparable in pattern and violation to oral sexual assault.
Victims du jour
By the way, I might mention that while genuine sexual assault and child sexual abuse is a reality that has long been with us and is only now really coming to light (thankfully), the similarity of this early perinatal experience of ungentle mouth clearing to sexual assault may have something to do with the epidemic of reports of infant sexual abuse that are coming out of counselor’s therapy rooms.
Confused interpretations of these reports can happen because most counselors and psychotherapists are ignorant of birth and perinatal trauma and yet more and more of them are allowing bits and pieces of regressive techniques into their standard professional arsenals. In addition, they throw in these techniques, most often, without qualification or experience with these techniques, and oftentimes out of knowledge gained solely from books or second-handedly…not to mention rarely, because of professional arrogance, having experienced or undergone these regressions themselves. Combine this inexperienced dredging up of perinatal material with the fact, as I will be continually reiterating throughout this book, that people these days are closer to their perinatal unconscious, to their birth trauma. One can see how it can easily happen that when feelings of being orally assaulted after birth begin arising within the counseling rooms, they can be interpreted, by therapist or client or both, as early sexual assault–that being the interpretation du jour, so to speak, and because of course both are ignorant of the fact of birth trauma–its having systematically been resisted and purged from mainstream professional and lay common knowledge, beginning with Freud’s rejection of Otto Rank’s discovery of it, right down to the present. (But let’s not get into that just here.)
Welcome to the world…now f u
Regardless, the ungentle mouth cleaning is felt not just as a physical assault, it is an outrage to the infant’s tender psyche as well—leaving a lifelong and fundamental imprint undergirding and helping to sculpt all later experience—in that it is the first “welcome” to this world. That is to say, the birth struggle ends, there is release…( finally!)…then, “Welcome, baby” — yank! stretch, feel manipulated and used, treated like an object and with no sense that one is a living aware being.
With this in mind—that this “Hello–fuck you!” experience can be the primal (first) experience of this world, of other people, of society — it may be easier to understand the profound fear and anxiety toward other people that resides inside many of us (e.g., the book title: I’d Rather Die Than Give a Speech!), as well as the (“mindless”) violence and rage that is directed back against anonymous people and society in general by certain types of criminals, who end up acting out their “fuck you” welcome into the world by attacking back and outwardly, rather than this early rage energy being channeled into some of the other, more healing or at least not harmful, responses possible to early assault.
Faces Coming Out of the Walls
I would like to refer to one final perinatal indicator in the visual media, which has been capturing my attention of late (seeming to be coming out of the very walls at me!). This is—what appears to me to be—a recent and new sort of perinatal symbolism, at least in our culture. We have had, over and over again, the image of the “evil fetus” erupting from the abdomen, as in the classic scene from “Alien” as well as that of it emerging from the mouth (e.g., the “volcano-new-species” episode of The X Files and the dance hall scene in “Jacob’s Ladder”–indicating fetal emergence mixed with ungentle neonatal mouth clearing).
But this new variation of “fetal emergence” has human faces pushing through membrane-like elastic walls!
Ventura out of the womb
A good example of this occurs in the movie, “Ace Ventura, Pet Detective, When Nature Calls.” In the Ace Ventura movie, Jim Carey emerges from inside a mechanical rhino with virtually all birth elements evident—the hot and suffocating womb (inside the rhino); the desperate need to get out (interestingly, the fan—the source of comfort in the rhino [womb]—stops working after a while, and this is exactly analogous to the way, when we are fetuses, the nurturing elements of the mother’s womb “turn off,” in the last stage of gestation; and the womb becomes quite an uncomfortable place indeed); the pushing of face against the elastic, membrane surface of the rhino’s posterior (the tourists watching this explicitly state that they see it as the rhino giving birth); Jim Carey’s (Ace Ventura’s) struggle to make the opening larger and to come out; and finally, he falls, naked wet, and curled up fetal- or baby-like, to the ground—the hilarious (and outrageous to the tourists) part being the image of a rhino giving birth to a full-grown naked adult human “baby.”
Couldn’t fight your way out of an elastic bag!
Other examples of this element of human features pushing through membranes has individuals completely covered and suffocated in membrane-like elastic sheets from which they cannot escape and in which they appear agonized and struggling (as in the scene from “Fire In the Sky” that was shown repeatedly on TV to hype the movie when it came out).
This house will eat you alive!
I saw a most potent example of this new perinatal element in the 1996 movie by Peter Jackson, with Michael J. Fox, “The Frighteners.”
This movie’s plot involved a house being somewhat alive and gobbling people up into the walls. The gobbled-up people would try to emerge from the house’s walls, and, the walls being like elastic when they would do this, the features of their faces could be seen pushing through to the point even of the individuals being identifiable. These swallowed people could not get out of the walls, but they would be the next ones trying to lure their loved ones and friends into being swallowed up by the house, the same having been done to them, which had resulted in their being taken into the walls initially. Sounds like a modern, very perinatal variation on the Pied Piper theme.
House, cave, squids
Anyway, this portrayal, bizarre as it sounds and as it looked, can only be explained by looking into our perinatal imprints, and it is rife with such elements. To start with, a house, being an enclosure in which humans protect, nurture, and take care of themselves once born into the world, is perhaps the most prevalent womb symbol that exists. It is right up there in importance with caves, oceans, swallowing beasts–especially beasts of the ocean like whales (Jonah), sharks (Jaws), and octopi or giant squids (there was a recent movie about one of these as well; its plot development was of the “Jaws” genre), which in adding tentacles add elements of pubic hair and umbilical strangulation to the normal aspects of womb torture such as simple compression and suffocation.
House; cave; water; devouring dragon, whale, or shark; automobile; the deep forest -anything in fact with elements of being surrounding and engulfing of one and as nurturing or threatening one, or both, are womb symbols, as we have known for a long time.
Houses and spaceships are real mothers
One lengthy explanation of this kind of symbolism as it is connected with “the Mother” is the Jungian Erich Neumann’s classic book The Origins and History of Consciousness, which he himself based on other even earlier analyses of mother symbolism and its association with enclosing and enveloping sorts of thing. At any rate, among all these, the house is probably the most popular symbol today. It would seem to be used more in the visual media as a womb symbol than any other, currently. With the increased interest in science fiction, the spaceship is perhaps coming in second, but even that distantly.
Is it any wonder your house is haunted?
I remember watching an old movie from the “Amityville” series. As most people are aware, in any of these movies, it is the evil house that is the source of the horror. This goes back to Edgar Allen Poe’s “The House of Usher.” Yet this plot idea of an evil house, which must, in the end, come crashing down in flames (indicating the explosive and fiery birth, BPM III, which signals the release from the evil forces), has been boringly evident in films in the Twentieth Century.
Mad Doctor Frankenstein, the obstetrician
Related to this, taking this theme back in time, is the ideas of dungeons or castles (with mad scientists, no less…obstetricians, perhaps?). At any rate, in this idea of a house that “gobbles” one up, we have the bringing together of two of the most predominant birth elements in film -an evil house and a devouring beast. That fact of a doubling of perinatal elements alone is indicative of a plot saturated with perinatal influence.
Origins of parallel universes
But this idea of something coming through the walls, membrane walls, is both fascinating and telling in the extreme. It speaks to other perinatal elements and feelings. I might start by pointing out the element of there being another realm into which people go and from which people are rescued (with luck). There is a barrier between the two realms–a permeable, elastic barrier. Anytime you have this other realm you are talking about either birth or death or both. Oftentimes it is both, for it is felt that to go back to the time of being in the womb (“regression”) is akin to death.
Of course we get this idea that birth is death–not only because of the fact that at that time, in the late stages of pregnancy with fetal malnutrition, lack of sufficient oxygen, suffocation, and so on, there was a sense of impending death, and oftentimes actual vital life threat to the fetus–but also because the actual time of being born is analogous to a dying to one state in order to be born into another. Actual birth, BPM III, has most often been related to feelings of death/rebirth, so of course, for these reasons, anything having to do with going across or back into that other realm is going to be associated with death.
“There’s no place like home.”
But death is not the only aspect of crossing some kind of barrier into another realm. Related to the house theme, we see how going through a membrane into another realm can take one into another place where one has adventures and rediscovers important understandings or is transformed or matured in some way. In this category we have Alice going through a looking glass to go into Wonderland, Dorothy and Toto in “The Wizard of Oz” being transported (in their house, naturally) to another realm, and the back of the wardrobe opening up into the other land of Narnia in the classic children’s series by C. S. Lewis titled, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Through the looking glass
And of course this is only the tip of the iceberg of works of literature, film, and TV that could be given: the magic mirror, often an antique one (of course), which opens up to another horrible or wonderful place or to a time in the past; or the secret passageway in a wall that opens, by means of some magical or technical maneuver and takes one into secret places–both wondrous and hideous. The hearth that spins around is particularly telling in that the hearth may be considered the “heart” or center of the maternal in the house, the prime source of heat and nourishment (as when in previous times it was the place in which the food was actually cooked). There are many other examples.
The movie “Jumanji” with Robin Williams employed this idea laboriously and dramatically, with people going through walls into other times and places. But the movie also included perinatal elements such as stampedes of gigantic jungle animals and even floods. Here again we see beasts that can devour or crush one, but also enveloping waters. In fact, when the flooding waters came through the wall, to accompany this element there was even the “mandatory” fight with a tentacled beast!
This “dark” unknown
In this movie, “Jumanji,” as in too many others, the “other side” is depicted as a dangerous and often deathly place. This points to the vital life threat that we go through at the times of our birth, leaving an imprint of fear of it for a lifetime. This depiction of it and fear of it are both understandable and unfortunate. For, as I alluded to earlier, this idea of birth trauma has been vigorously resisted in our culture ever since it was first presented by Otto Rank. And we can attribute that resistance to accepting its reality to the fact that it triggers so much fear in people to even consider these perinatal influences.
Love, fear relationship
To put it another way, considering, as we now are, how imbued with death, fear, and pain is this time of our life, we are capable of seeing that there are good reasons why otherwise logical people would at all costs resist the idea of birth trauma and perinatal influences, the evidence be damned. We are both fascinated by this time of our life–playing it out endlessly in our imaginations and collective dreams and, as we shall see in the next chapter, in our everyday lives– but we are utterly terrified of it. Indeed it is, as Janov once put it, the only time for most people that in life we come so close to death, other than our actual demise.
To hell with it…
So to acknowledge birth is to face death and an inner memory of horror and a hell-like experience. These aspects of it are not going to lend to its being readily accepted among our intellectual currency. In the same way that clients in the therapy rooms only face their perinatal memories when all other interpretations, memories, and early experiences have been made and integrated–the perinatal being the last and most gruesome of truths to face–and it is faced when all other options are gone and only the truth will do; so also–its not being easy truth–its acceptance into the arena of our common knowledge has awaited its necessity to be known and acknowledged. It has required our species survival being at stake for us to consider the deepest roots of our problems. [Footnote 3]
Face me, or you’re mine!
And this book is primarily about that necessity to face the ultimate and horrible truths if we are to save ourselves. Not only are we closer to our perinatal unconscious these days, we are–because of the precarious nature of our times, which our ignorance and denial of the perinatal heretofore has set up for us–required to face the perinatal “monster” or we are doomed. It is now the time to uncover the truth, to get to the root of the problem, or there will simply, eventually, be no problem, because there will be no people to have a problem or to recognize a truth or root of a problem.
Fear and freedom…only a membrane away
Be that as it may, this recent development in perinatal imagery involving a membrane barrier between us and the perinatal realm is closer to our actual perinatal reality than any of the previous symbols put out in earlier times which showed a barrier between us and the perinatal. So this membrane depiction of the perinatal suggests an increasing closeness to the perinatal unconscious.
We have progressed beyond hard walls or mirrors separating us from our perinatal truth (and horror), now they are just a membrane away. A thin, elastic membrane away. With the truth trying to call out to us, pushing its face through–like the computer push technology, with all its annoying pop-up consoles and screens that won’t go away–spamming through to tell us what we need and to call us back to a realization of the truths we need to hear to save ourselves.
Getting back to the symbol itself, the perinatal elements of this new symbol are rife. Obviously the late stages of pregnancy have one in an enclosed elastic, membrane container (the womb), from which one cannot escape. Also, the fetus’s features in the latest stages are somewhat evident, can be seen and felt, on the surface of the mother’s belly, something like faces pushing out of elastic walls. And one struggles agonizingly during birth and endures intense suffocation through a great deal of it, just like those in movies who are surrounded by elastic sheets.
Baby abductees and masked medical aliens
Finally, a later perinatal element is inserted in the “Fire In the Sky” scene in that the struggling abductee, covered in the elastic membrane sheet, is lying on an alien’s medical table. In the same way a baby, right after birth, endures the struggle for breath, caused by premature umbilical cutting, as it lies on the medical table and receives “processing” by medical personnel who to the fetus are alien-looking (i.e., prominent eyes, lower face not pronounced because covered with surgical mask).
The point of bringing out the occurrence of these media images is that the projective systems of our culture—our art—are reflecting our collective changes in consciousness: Specifically, the evolution of our consciousness as it is confronted by this unconscious pre- and perinatal material…or, as some psychohistorians would have it, the “collapsing” of our “ego strength” as we are “threatened” by these “dangerous” perinatal elements.
Birthing Into Everyday Life
Whether these images are indicative of a healing crisis or are the opening of a Pandora’s box–i.e., Earth Rebirth or Apocalypse–will be something for us to consider further on. Meanwhile, let us look at how these elements, not only show up in our collective media dreams, but fashion the very furniture of our everyday reality.
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Apocalypse – No! Chapter Nine:
Twenty-First Century and Its DisContents
1. For an analysis of the pre- and perinatal elements of “Independence Day,” see Anne Marquez’s article on the Primal Spirit website: “‘Independence Day’: Pre- and Perinatal Adventure in Film.” [return to text]
2. The text for “Birthing, Forgetting” can be found at “My Beginning, At Least the Part Anyone Could See: Birthing…Forgetting (a short story) on my site, SillyMickel Adzema’s Life – Autobiography. It was originally published in Michael D. Adzema, “Birthing, Forgetting (a story).” Primal Renaissance: The Journal of Primal Psychology, 2(1), Spring 1996, pp. 65-76.
An audio reading by the author of Birthing, Forgetting, can be heard by following the link above to the audio site or by clicking the audio player below.
For background and elaboration of “Birthing, Forgetting” listen to the audio,
The audiocast of “Prologue to Birthing, Forgetting” can be heard by following the link above to the audio site or by clicking the audio player below. [return to text]
3. See Stanislav Grof on this at “Planetary Survival and Consciousness Evolution: Psychological Roots of Human Violence and Greed“
Copyright © 1999, 2011 by Michael Derzak Adzema
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Apocalypse – No! Chapter Nine:
Twenty-First Century and Its DisContents
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