Most of us have taken interesting journeys in our lives (and we have photos to prove it!). But there was one journey we took that was more incredible than all the others combined: Our journey from the moment of conception to implantation within our mother’s womb. You might think: ”Well, I really wasn’t around to experience it and I certainly don’t remember it.” But that memory may still be there, albeit deeply buried in your psyche. It is, in fact, buried in the collective psyche. You can see this journey described in world mythology as ”the great river journey.” Many cultural traditions have a myth that describes a child placed in a boat and sent down a river, only to be found and adopted by people (or in some cases, animals). There was Moses and the bulrushes (see photo above). Romulus and Remus (the mythical founders of Rome), were placed in a basket and sent down the river Tiber, until being retrieved and adopted by wolves. Five thousand years ago, the Babylonian hero, Sargon was put in a vessel made of reeds and dropped into the Euphrates River. He floated down the river until Akki, a water carrier, discovered him and raised him as his adopted son. The great world mythologist Joseph Campbell called this mythic theme: ”the infant exile motif.”
But it was psychiatrist R.D. Laing who pointed out how these scenarios parallel the uterine journey in many startling respects. In his characterization of it, the hero is the zygote (one- celled organism) who is placed in a boat (the zona pellucida), which floats down the river (the fallopian tube), lands on a shore (the endometrium), receives the care of people or animals (the nurturing forces of the mother’s uterus), and grows into maturity (development of the fetus to full term).
In many respects it was a harrowing journey. Only 50 percent of fertilized eggs make it all the way down the fallopian tube to implantation in the uterus. You could have gotten stuck in there and died as a result of an ectopic pregnancy. You might have been killed by white blood cells that mistook you for an intruder. You could have crash landed on some moon-like craters if your mother had had endometriosis or other problems with the lining of her uterus. And then there was the possibility of a birth control device waiting to block your drive to be born. But, guess what? None of these things happened. You were born! You made it! Congratulations!
For more accounts of your great journey through life, get my book: Thomas Armstrong, The Human Odyssey: Navigating the Twelve Stages of Life.