Bearing in mind : birth, fathers, ritual, and 'reproductive consciousness' in transpersonal anthropological perspective : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Social Anthropology at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand
Bearing in Mind: Birth, Fathers, Ritual, and 'Reproductive Consciousness' in Transpersonal Anthropological Perspective is an exploration of 'unusual' psychospiritual experiences among a small group of procreative fathering males in New Zealand and the viewing of these experiences through a transpersonal anthropological lens. I have used the transpersonal literature and the anthropological record, coupled with fieldwork among contemporary males to explore some of their more 'non-ordinary' responses to childbirth, paying close attention to the symbolic and therapeutic dimension implicated in their participation The term 'non-ordinary' pertains to NOSC or non ordinary states of consciousness (see glossary). Frequently their narratives suggest psychological encounters with death and transpersonal states of consciousness. This research examines these states of consciousness, the broad cultural context from which they arise and their relationship to birthing. Two basic themes are explored: 1) the social shaping of birth as a transpersonal event and ritual at the time fathers joined their partners in birthing during the late 1960s, and 2) an investigation of the transpersonal experience itself. Such phenomena have wide anthropological ramifications which opens a third theme for exploration: the possible parallels with more traditional, shamanistic, and/or indigenous midwifery and obstetrical manoeuvres (and therefore religion) – these parallels will be outlined and explored. This thesis relies heavily on a reinterpretation of the transpersonal and anthropological literature; however it is the fieldwork (gathering birth stories from men and women) that is crucial because it is the transpersonal content of their stories that drives the theoretical component.