Burying The Placenta of Vigilance



September 18, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 371
Burying The Placenta Of Vigilance

Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

       GROUND ZERO, New York City, September 18--Protecting a child from Terrorism takes many forms.  One of those includes the burial of our grandson's placenta.
        Angus was conceived in the fallout of September 11.   He is a special child, as thousands others are who were born as a sign of Vigilance following the horror and destruction of Nine Eleven.
        His parents kept his placenta, the "jacket" in which he grew in his mother's womb for nine months, commonly called the "afterbirth."   They decided to bury it in a private family ceremony, attended only by themselves and their three children, Matt, 6, Sarah, 4, and baby Angus who carries with him the Legacy of Vigilance as a Nine Eleven Baby.
        They conducted the ritual in their backyard, in a beautiful grotto garden rich with flowers and fruit trees, verdant and peaceful in a city known for its concrete landscape.        

       For months following the birth, they kept the placenta frozen, waiting for the right time to place it in the earth as a symbol of hope and health not only for their family, but for the world.  Symbolically, they were planting the "seeds of life" back into Mother Earth's womb, for in ancient folklore it is believed that one of the dead is reborn when a placenta is buried, releasing its spirit to rise up from the grave of the "otherworld."

Four Corners Monument

Cultures throughout the world revere the placenta as a symbol of life.   Navajo Indians bury their child's placenta in the sacred Four Corners of the tribe's reservation as a binder to ancestral land and people.
        In New Zealand, Maoris give back the placenta to Mother Earth to insure health and happiness of the child.   In their language, the word for placenta and land are the shame--"whemia."

Maori baby

    In the Hmong culture of Southeast Asia the word for placenta comes from "jacket."  The belief is that after death, the soul must retrace the journeys taken in life until it reaches the burial place of it placenta jacket.

     In Bolivia, the Aymara and Quecha people believe the placenta has its own spirit.  It is to be washed and buried by the husband in a secret and shady place to avoid the mother or baby from becoming sick or ill.
      Some cultures recommend eating the placenta as it is rich in nutrients and fable has it that it will eliminate sterility in childless women.   

        When Angus was born, we all stood around the placenta and offered our prayers to the child's health.   Our daughter gave birth in a birthing center, and was able to take the placenta home.  Had she given birth in a hospital, that would not be possible.
        I had witnessed her birth, and that of her younger sister.   And, prior to that, I had helped deliver two babies in Vietnam, in the midst of a war-torn country where the women in the village lay back on straw beds, ball a fist of their long black hair in their hand, bite down on it and push until the child enters the world.

     The bringing of life unto this earth is a beautiful sight, even if the world around the birth is full of all the worst of times--such a war or the threat of it.   A birth gives life added dimension, and seems to fly in the face of all the madness of people seeking to kill one another, for war is the ultimate disrespect for life, the sanction for eliminating it.    

      Privately, I had wanted Angus' placenta to be buried at Ground Zero.   I thought burying it at the epicenter of the destruction of September 11, 2001, would refresh the soil there, saturated with the blood of thousands who died when the Twin Towers collapsed.   But the burial wasn't my choice.
       After reading about the history of burying a placenta, I realized it should be buried near the home of the family, and near a tree.

 Such a tree if often called a "tree of life," and it represents the growth of human kind.   There are no trees at Ground Zero, just a huge pit, a giant grave that my wife and I visited on the anniversary of Nine Eleven.
       Then I began to think about Ground Zero.
       Ground Zero wasn't limited to the immediate area around the World Trade Center.   It was wherever someone stood that day and felt the sinking feeling of insecurity, and the rush of Fear, Intimidation and the powerlessness of Complacency that one was unable to do anything but pray.
        I often think because I was right there as the buildings fell, that I have some privy on the event.   Buy in reflection, I realize that people thousands of miles away watching the event unfold on television screens felt the same Ground Zero I did--felt the same sad emptiness at the wanton destruction of life, and, the unbridled fear that more was to come.
       Our daughter and son-in-law, parents of two children, were sickened by the event.   She cried uncontrollably, wondering what to do to protect her children, torn by the threat of harm that might be in offing for her family.   I remember comforting her near Key Food, a local grocery store in the East Village as we walked up the street.   
       Her Ground Zero was the fear of her children's safety, as it was for so many thousands of parents across the country who had no idea what was coming next.
      I've often wondered if her pregnancy wasn't her way of standing up to the Terrorists--her way of showing defiance in the face of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.   Certainly, it takes Courage, Conviction and Right Actions to bring a child into a world full of Ground Zeros.

        Her family's choice of burying the placenta in her beautiful backyard was far greater than my idea of placing it in the earth at my Ground Zero.   I forgot that Ground Zero was, for many families, their homes.    It was where their family found its security and serenity, where children felt safe with the presence of "mommy" and "daddy."
      I also knew that the act of placing the placenta in the ground, life begetting life, was a powerful symbol to the children.   It was a lesson in respect for life versus the lesson the Terrorists attempted to teach--that one must "fear death."
      Life goes on.   Life survives death.   Life is part of the soil, from which springs the future.  The soil is not a grave, but instead a "jacket" for the "seeds of life."

      I had been thinking of Ground Zero as a grave.   It was hard not to feel the shroud of death after walking around the massive 16-acre pit, over sixty feet deep on September 11, 2002, hearing the sobs and quiet whimpers of the tattered souls who lost so many loved  ones that day.  The feeling was accentuated by the somber recitation of names of those who were lost that day being spoken over the loudspeaker, accompanied by a cello morbidly played the solemn soulful notes that made one's skin itch to leave the site.   Add to that the smell of raw, carved earth, mixed with motor oil from the giant machinery waiting for us to leave so their engines could crank up and rebuild that which had been lost and one could only think of death, not life.
      The ancient custom of burying the placenta in a life-filled spot, in the shade of a tree, amidst the bursting garden of life was a far better choice than in naked, scarred, bloodied soil, I reconsidered.

      And it meant so much more to our daughter, her husband and children who had huddled as a family, comforting one another in the days following the attack, waiting for God knew what to happen next, smelling the acrid odor of bodies burning in the raging fires that incinerated any signs of those who fell victim that day to the Hand of Terrorism.

Hand Of Terrorism

      Among all the pain of death, life was conceived, not at Ground Zero, but at our daughter's home.    So the burial of the placenta in her backyard was the right place to salute the Sentinels of Vigilance, to honor their presence and their power to protect the families of the world, and all the children, and their children's children's children.
      While some might be quick to admonish the burial of a placenta as some "non-civilized pagan rite," they need to take a second look at where humanity is at today.
      We haven't progressed much from the caves and clubs and bear skins we once wore.
      Our clubs have become more modernized, but our intent is the same--to kill and maim and explode the shrapnel of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency in one another.
      Civilization is about the soul, not the technology.   When parents honor the placenta, they honor life.   They bury the Fear, the Intimidation and the Complacency of the barbaric way of human thinking, and symbolize to their children that the placenta means life is more important than death.  They teach their children that from the "jacket of life" sprouts Vigilance--Courage, Conviction and Right Actions.
       That is civilized.  

       Burying Terrorism and planting Vigilance--is civilization at its best.  It is the planting of Courage where Fear once took root, it is seeding Conviction where Intimidation tried to choke its victim, and it is enriching the soil with Right Actions where Complacency once tried to poison the earth.
       Yes, Ground Zero is alive and growing.  



Go To September 17--Kidnappers Of Terror

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