Twenty Years Ago Today…

By on February 28, 2011 — 15 Comments

Twenty years ago today, the Gulf War came to a peaceful end after four days of fierce fighting.

At this exact time, I gave birth to Talulah Raven, my strange, remarkable daughter. Had she lived, she would be a young woman now making her way in the world. While she chose to only visit me briefly, she utterly changed my life, partly by choosing not to stay.

Today, I honour her presence in my life for I owe much to her, even though that time was the most humbling period of my life.

The doctors induced me just as the fighting in the Middle East began. I was in labour for the entire four days. It was a strangely numinous time. I laboured knowing that this baby would not live, yet wanting her to have as graceful and natural a passage from birth through to death as possible.

By the time I was in the hospital, I knew her fate. She was a dwarf, one of the ‘little people.’ In this form, she could have survived, however, the determining factor was that her wee chest held only a heart, no lungs. She would never breathe.

This was part of her gift to me, for I did not have to make the very difficult decisions about her tiny body. She was very clear. “Nothing you can do will help. Let me be and let me go… then integrate the strange message of my presence in your life.”

Surrounded by a circle of strong, loving women, I struggled with the heart-opening of loving a baby, followed by the shock of not creating a ‘perfect’ child, then the grief of turning everything within me to let her go.

Pregnancy opens a woman completely, each and every time. Adding to a series of other losses, this pregnancy dropped me to my knees. In the early months, my lover, Talulah Raven’s father, left me and my two young sons. Shortly after that, my ex-husband died suddenly. These events left us reeling. On top of this, we had recently left the comforts of a large spiritual community where I’d spent the past twenty years. Though I was excited about my new life, I moved away from many friends and a very structured support system.

Talulah Raven was born late in the morning, February 28th, 1991. I held her on my stomach for the twenty-five minutes of her short life, singing softly to her as the pulsing cord linking us gradually slowed. I held and marvelled at her beautiful little body for several hours while the doctor, a very compassionate woman, gave me quiet space to be with her. Later that afternoon I left the hospital, my breasts bound and swelling with milk. Supported by my new community, we held a sacred ceremony, named her and scattered her ashes.

In the following months, I was numb and disoriented. Seeking some answers, I consulted a wise woman and though she knew nothing about Talulah Raven, as soon as she began tuning in she saw her. “There is a beautiful woman who wants to communicate with you…” she said, going on to describe her. Immediately, I understood what I had to do.

Receiving the Gift

I came home and began writing; for the next four years, I let myself open to her guidance. In this form of deep embodied listening, reassured by the powerful presence of her memory in my body, she mothered me through the painful yet creative steps of moving on, growing up, and stepping into my new work. Through this time, I learned to trust my intuition and to receive guidance beyond my best ideas. She suggested I write poetry to help open my rather rigid brain; this took me into a deeper connection with my body opening the way for me to comprehend the poetic language of the plants.

I have written elsewhere about the origins of Raven Essences, describing how a colleague asked me to make a flower essence from the Datura plant in my co-creative garden. That is the literal start of the project, but this story reveals the dark soil from which Raven Essences came to be. I share this with you now so that you can appreciate the challenge and the joy of receiving strange gifts, ones that challenge us to go deeper, breathe in and through pain, and to keep growing into our fullness.

Today, as I listen to the news from the Middle East with the groundswell of creative protest roaring through the hearts of so many people, I feel the threads of connection to my own life, once in such upheaval and now, so richly fulfilling and creative.

Though I do not call upon her in the same way as I did before, Talulah Raven is closely in my heart today. At one point, she said, “My work with you is done. Do not publish what we have shared… that was for you alone. I will publish myself through the essences.”

And I do believe she has.


Related Blogs: Other significant moments in my Creative process

The Alchemy of Grief

The Raven Essence Project — Working with Nature to Develop A Living System


  1. Wow. What a beautiful tribute to your daughter, Andrea, and what an invitation for all of us to accept the strange gifts that sorrow can bring. Thanks for sharing this. It feels like part of a book.

  2. Thank you Andrea for expressing and sharing such a deeply sensitive time in your life. It is a gift of spiritual creation and survival for all of us. So glad to have (e)met you…someday in person I’m sure! – Jennifer

    • Thank you! The sharing was timely for me, and it seems for others as well…

  3. What a beautiful story Andrea–with such medicine flowing in the telling. A profound thank you for sharing it. A friend just passed it along just after a weekend celebration for a book that i’ve just birthed (Wild Feminine:Finding Power, Spirit & Joy in the Female Body) that is written from witnessing the deepest healing in the pelvic bowl that women do when they tap into the mystery and make medicine just as your story shares. Wild Feminine carries the spirit of my own spirit daughter who came into body so briefly as well, but left an immense gift and presence in my life.

    My friend came to a special blessing circle that we were holding for Wild Feminine, during which there was a tremendous clearing of energy that knocked me off my feet. I almost couldn’t make it to the blessing, the energy storm around me was so strong. “You need a flower essence” came a voice. The blessing had almost started, how would I get a flower essence? Just then I received an email from my friend (who sent the link to your blog today) and she had prepared a flower essence with some of the Raven flower essences. I set out for the blessing, arrived and lay down to cry in the circle of women, then awoke to find that she had placed the flower essence on my left side. I took some and felt the deep sweet peace of the earth mother and the loving strong feminine. So glad to read the depth of how you created these essences and to celebrate the deep knowing that comes from our bodies and the blessing of these sacred womb beings. with love, Tami

    • Tami, I have you marvelous book and have recommended it to many women! Thank you for the pioneering work you have done in the area of access, at a most intimate physical way, the wild feminine. Often, this consideration is metaphoric, abstract, and you have taken the courageous step to speak the unspeakable… I look forward to sharing more with you in the future.

  4. I am almost without words at the aching beauty of your story, and the strange gift you shared here… Deep Earth blessings, Andrea. Deep gratitude for the gift.

    • Thank you, Tracie. Strange gifts, indeed… and good to share rather than hold too close to the heart when they want to fly into the world.

  5. Dear Andrea,
    Can it really be 20 years? I can’t believe that it is today that I came upon your website and blog! I am sorry that we have lost touch with one another for such a long time. I think it is mostly on account of me and my life’s twists and turns as you have progressed with the powerful work that started 20 years ago. I would love to get together some time catch up on what has transpired in the years. And, I thank you for your significant part in helping me get to the path that I am now, so happily, on.
    Much love and blessings to you,

    • Julia, what amazing synchronicity to reconnect at this time! I’d love to get together in person… Let’s see what we can do on that score! Andrea

  6. This is a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it. Such depth and honouring of the feminine process.

  7. So touching and moving. Deep gratitude, les

  8. Dearest Andrea, I celebrate your courage, immense heart and deep wisdom and give thanks to Tahlula for her part in the process. In some way she has become part of all our lives . Love you my friend. Susan

  9. Oh, Andrea. I opened your blog today wondering what you’d been up to, but never anticipated what a gift I would find in your sharing. Thank you.

  10. Just read this blog, Andrea, on a snowy Sunday morning, and it conveyed me into a profound heart-place of gratitude and compassion. Thank you for this lucid window on the mystery of the gifts that blossom on our paths. My Sunday is blessed.

  11. Dear Andrea, I am profoundly moved by this story and your grace and bravery. Thank you so much for sharing this.

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