Sunday, June 30, 2013

Book Review - Circles of Stone: Anthropology and Birth in One Great Story!

One of my favorite activities is hunting through a used bookstore (with a chai!) and searching for my next great find. During a recent visit to one of my favorite local shops, I serendipitously chose a book off the shelf that held a certain anthropological and feminist appeal. Imagine my utter excitement when I discovered that it contained a multitude of birth stories occurring throughout the evolution of man!

Great find for $3!
This anthropological fiction book, Circles of Stone by Joan Dahr Lambert, is rooted in historical evidence and theory, such as basing a character off the discovery of "Lucy's" body and theories about how she may have died.

The book is broken into three parts, three different but interwoven stories, which take place over the course of major evolutionary changes in prehuman and human history. Part I takes place in the Great Rift Valley of Africa approximately 1-1.5 million years ago, Part II occurs between the Rift Valley and the shores of the Red Sea from 500-200 thousand years ago, and Part III take place in the Pyrenees between France and Spain from 50-30 thousand years ago.

This book is a delightful find for a birth junkie such as myself and here's why. Not only was it choke-full of strong female figures, mother led tribes, and prehistoric worship of the Goddess Mother, it also contained stories of births that were used to describe the evolution of our human ancestors.

This book is literally describing the birth of humanity through the perspective of strong female figures and the challenges their bodies and tribes went through during human evolution! A fantastic story and journey through history!

I was particularly impressed with the story of the first cesarean section as described in Circles of Stone:

"Once again, she knelt and placed her palms against the stretched skin of her daughter's stomach. Her long fingers probed and pushed as she tried to feel what lay within so she would know how to accomplish the task the Mother had given her. The weight of her actions compressed her lips and furrowed her brow, but her hands did not falter. Taking a deep calming breath, she grasped her cutting stone. Slowly, with great deliberation, she cut a long, shallow slit across Mina's belly. Blood welled up; one of the women knelt and sopped it up with fresh leaves. Again, Kalar cut, deeper this time. Then she shoved her hands into the wound and felt for the life within. Around and around her hands went, feeling, exploring, hoping. ... She had done the thing that had come to her in a picture, a picture that had come from the Life-Giver. Never before had an infant been plucked alive from the belly of its dead mother. Now it had been done, and it could be done again. ...Until this time of change was over, they did not need to lose them all, (p127)."

From gestation's that last too long and cause babies to be too big, to fragile and weak babies that are born too soon and cannot survive; this book describes the trials and tribulations, but also the power and inspiration of birth throughout early human history.

This is a great book and an easy read. Recommended for those who enjoy anthropology, birth, and a good story about the early course of human history!

Happy Reading!
~Wisdom and Birth

If you've read Circles of Stone, please share a comment with your thoughts :)

1 comment:

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