Placenta [EN]

Nowadays, it seems necessary to find a deepest application to a biological law according to which ontogenesis (individual evolution theory) is a synthesis of phylogenesis (species evolution theory). Actually, under the last century law, a foetus plunged in amniotic liquid and equipped with rudimental gills had to be a demonstration of human beings' sea origins. In addition, it was supposed that human beings had a nocturnal past and, before evolving to erect posture, they used four limbs to move; furthermore, they were supposed to be placenta-eaters before approaching the obstetric dilemma (Ober, 1979). This dilemma, together with the abolition of placentophagia (from this point on considered as a taboo), can be considered a turnover leading to a recent Girad theory: the birth of culture. In Briffault's opinion (1927), a group of mothers with their children composed the original human community. This group had no psychological characterization, they were just "group individuals", who conceived themselves as a part of a broader organism: their social group. From this point of view, a single member's wound was concretely perceived as a wound on one's own body. This way, unconsciously, the primitive human group repeated a syncytial structure inherited from a previous group of cells, which had been able to fit up the uterus with the conceiving product.

Just like syncytiotrophoblast cells, having a single membrane containing all its nucleuses in itself, so the members of the group were a one. In this unity, no individuality was conceived, and the human species still lived in a sort of primitive instinctiveness , even in harmony with the entire ecosystem: thus, natural calamities were interpreted as a break of this symbiotic relationship. At this evolution point, individuals were joined together in an unconscious agreement, that is, a sort of symbiosis with the rhythm of sun and moon: life was a sort of filter, regularly absorbed in nature and by nature, exploiting its resources. Humans were still nocturnal; their biorhythm was set upon nature and moon phases: females menstruated together every 28 days, and bore quite at the same time, yielding to placentophagia. These ancient rituals are partially called up again in the myth of Bacchantes, followers of Dionysiaca. As evolution progresses lead to erect position and allowed human race not to use hands as a simple mean of transport anymore, the aforesaid primitive group was placed in difficulties. This state of crisis is clarified by a greater development of cerebral hemispheres, which lead to a cranium growing and, therefore, to a stricture of uterine duct due to a modification of pelvis. Then, to sum up, the obstetric dilemma deals with the problems of a foetus having an encephalon bigger than before and in need to be delivered through a uterine duct tighter and tighter.

This is why the act of giving birth become more and more dangerous, often leading to death. As a consequence, panic altered the symbiosis of nature and human biorhythm, just leaving untouched the menstrual cycle timing, and reducing, instead, pregnancy period. The lunar pact shock affected the unconscious balance between ecosystem and human species, between single human being and its social group, between psychology and animal instinct. The meaning of all this is a breach in the relationship between body and mind, leading to an alteration of the "group-individual" rule and to a separation between unconscious and reason, nature and culture, instinct and will. Mothers started to associate the reasons of the bio-shock to placentophagia, which soon after became a taboo to be controlled by new rituals: placenta become uneatable, or, sometimes, a food able to keep safe from childbirth phobia. Therefore, biped females were less afraid of giving birth alone when they meet their community through cathartic rituals from which lunar and placental faiths take origin.From this point of view, placenta – escaping from its oral, instinctive circle - can be considered the first sacred taboo harboured by a group of humanized mothers who were humanizing humankind through childbirth.

Quoting Briffault speaking about Ugandan people, we can consider the way of taking care of kings babies placenta as an example. Actually, temples were built in order to safeguard and watch over it, till the moment when it was exposed to moon rays after having strewn it with butter. Furthermore, it seems that placenta had even a greater importance for Egyptians: people often associated it to the moon, and considered it a sheath for immortal divine soul – that is, the so-called Ka – coming from the moon itself. In short, all rituals linked to placenta seem to have a sectarian, aristocratic connotation. Probably, somebody (in particular, grown up people) should be able to tell about "his dead twin", that is, placenta. It is hard to guess to what end this dead twin brought: it should have been thrown overboard, buried hastily under a tree, or simply turned into a cosmetic product. We are just dealing with old stories, which new generations often neglect, just like the tradition of giving birth to children at home. Nevertheless, the choice of the hospital as a favourite place for childbirth seems strictly connected to a closer relationship between the act of giving life and its medical implications, first of all the perception of its pathological aspects. On the other hand, it is true that a greater attention to these implications is useful indeed, but the prevention of dangerous situations cannot justify the coldness of operating theatres.

Maybe, all the pain of childbirth (which, however, does not stand for ancient dangerous and individual childbirth of two footed females anymore) can be overcome thanks to a revival of communitarian spirit and to a rediscovery – and renewal - of ancient rituals, experimented in a new dimension. This is why the place we bear, just like a place to meet at, a temple to pray in, has to be considered a new opportunity, where respect for natural, medical and psychological features of the problem stand granted forever. According to this point of view, the wish of giving life out from an hospital cannot be considered neither as a form of isolation from reality and suffering, nor as a show of intolerance, but rather a need of giving consciousness to a sacred event.

Therefore, the celebration of the renewal of the ancient ritual needs a new form of architecture, able to give form to the search for solidarity, for childbirth as a part of a story come out from faith in life.