I met Dr. Grant McFetridge in the late 1990s. He had invited me three times to a course on a recently developed healing modality called Emotional Freedom Techniques or EFT, also known as Tapping. EFT is discussed in detail in chapter 6. I declined his first two invitations, but after the third (three is my command number for paying attention), I attended his one-day course.
I did not understand how this strange-looking technique could work, but at the same time, I was impressed by how effective it was, and intrigued since the Native North American shamanic path I had followed for ten years did not incorporate the concept of energy meridians and their potential in healing.
During the next few years I studied and practiced EFT intensively. This proved to be an important tool in the work Grant and I were to do together.
After the EFT course, Grant said he thought I might be interested in a project he had recently designed.
He said he had talked with many people who had had peak experiences. The experience might be a flash of profound awareness or wisdom, a momentary sense of deep connection with other-than-human beings, an awareness of flows of energy moving through and around us, or an ability to see beauty in all people and all things.
For almost everyone, these experiences lasted only a short time. The person might wish or try to get them back, but they often felt out of reach.
I understood what he was saying. Most of my peak experiences had come during meditations, in the sweatlodge, or on Vision Quests. Some had lasted for several days; however, all but one had ended, and even that one was not continuous.
Grant described his idea that ongoing peak states of awareness are available to all of us, but are blocked by traumas that occur before we are even born. He invited me to join him in investigating his theory and finding ways to heal the injuries that can occur before birth. If his theory was correct, healing those injuries for myself might allow me to experience an ongoing peak state.
I felt that much of what I had learned in the past twenty years was good preparation for my role in the project.
Grant asked me to help him explore the part of our life’s journey that begins with the creation of sperm cell and egg cell and ends with birth. I would enter a deep meditation, and he would guide me to the developmental events that he was interested in: conception, implantation in the wall of the womb, and the first contraction of labor. I would describe what I saw and felt. I was fascinated, and so agreed to be his test subject. I was interested in exploring life in the womb firsthand, and in the potential benefits of applying EFT to healing the trauma and injury that may occur before birth. I was also intrigued by the possibility of experiencing stable peak states for myself. I was ready for my job as experimental subject, object, and witness. I was ready to be Guinea Pig #2.
(Guinea Pig #1 was a woman who worked briefly with Grant in the earliest stages of the project. She was unable to devote more than a little time at the beginning of the research.)
Initially, the biggest challenge for me was believing that what Grant wanted to do was even possible. This was new territory for both of us. In retrospect, none of it was out of reach. Once we had blazed the trails, they were easy to find again and follow. I believe now that these techniques can be learned by anyone.
In order to access the locations in space and time that he had in mind, I would need four distinct skills. The first skill was to move my consciousness to a different location. That part would be easy. I had learned to “travel in spirit” to gather information from locations that I had not visited in my physical body. One of the exciting aspects of this was that in this work, the “different location” was my mother’s womb!
I would also be required to travel backward in time more than fifty years to my own conception and gestation. This too would be easy. I was familiar with temporal regression through my practice of EFT as well as through my shamanic work.
The third skill was communicating with organisms whose consciousness would be very different from mine. I was confident that I could communicate with the sperm cell, egg cell, and growing fetus since I had previously learned to communicate with other non-human beings.
The fourth requirement initially looked much more difficult. Grant’s intention was that I would take on the first-person perspective of the egg, sperm, or embryo. In other words, I would attempt to perceive through the consciousness of that organism. I would try to see what it saw, feel what it felt, respond as it responded. I would not attempt to control it, but experience what it did in a fashion that was so intimate that it would be my experience as well.
As you will read in the section below titled Differences in Perception from Ordinary Consciousness, I succeeded beyond what I had initially hoped. This may have been easier than expected because it was my own self that I was experiencing rather than the identity of another being or person.
During the next several years, Grant and I got together from time to time at various locations in Canada and the United States so he could verbally guide me to specific points in the pre-birth experience as I entered a deep meditative state. He would direct me to describe what I saw and felt while he recorded, made notes, and occasionally took photos. We would often work for ten hours a day, and I might be in an altered state for as much as five days. The work was exciting because we were in territory that as far as we knew had never been explored before. It was also rewarding because it felt like we were making significant discoveries nearly every day. We felt like trailblazers.
Once in a while someone has the privilege of being a true trailblazer. I did not know at the time whether this was so for me; it may have been more that I was like the first one to go through a landscape after a snowfall, where you realize only after the snow melts that a trail has been made by many earlier feet. But if you believe that you are the first person ever to be there, the feeling of excitement and the feeling of discovery are the same as if you truly were the first. In the moment of the experience, you cannot know. You must wait until the snow melts, until you find the stories of those who have been there before you.
As I began to write this book, I discovered accounts by people who had indeed explored parts of this same territory. Some of them have written about their journeys. Others have described models that assist our understanding of the pre-birth experience.[i]
It was affirming to discover that their experiences were like mine. And it was exhilarating to realize that Grant and I truly did create and blaze trails into previously unexplored territory.
At the beginning our relationship was that of researcher and subject. Over time, we became collaborating colleagues, then friends.
We generally followed the timeline of development in the research. We started with my pre-conception identities: sperm cell and egg cell. In separate journeys, I re-experienced my own conception (it still feels odd to say that!) as though I were the sperm cell, then the egg cell. Then, I experienced again my implantation as a zygote in the wall of my mother’s womb. During the next two years of the research, I revisited these early experiences a number of times and explored the months of my gestation and the time of labor.
Not all of the experiences were beautiful or even pleasant. Some were extremely painful, emotionally and psychically, and I eventually had to withdraw from the research because of that.
In telling this story I will follow the linear chronology of development of a baby—me—in utero.
There was also one fascinating side trip later in the project. I began this particular journey as before, starting as the egg in my mother’s ovary. This time, however, I moved backward in time to explore the creation of my own self as the egg. I describe that journey in appendix 3.
[i] More on this in Appendix 5.
Posted June 11, 2021