Tigerlily: what's in a name

Tigerlily is a little known native woodland flower in California. To me, it is the perfect symbol for women's labors and for women’s health.  

Hearing tigerlily, one might think the flower would have stripes.  But, as our bodies (and labor!) disregard human-made designations, tigerlilies do not have stripes, they have spots.  

Our native Tigerlily flower surprises with its quietness. It prefers secluded private places. Women in labor need privacy.

Labor, like a wild animal, is shy. It does its work best in intimate seclusion.

The native Tigerlily flower turns her face towards the earth, like a woman in active labor. Life and labor humble us: a point comes when we can only surrender.  

The word Tigerlily brings together the delicate, like the graceful wildflower, and the feminine powerful in its strength, like a tigress.  

The native Tigerlily is not a cultivated plant.  We do not shape it nor choose its season. We cannot force it.  We can allow it, we can give it space to grow. 

Labor and other strong physical experiences, like emotions, remind me of the Wild inside us. A live wilderness, at moments raging, at others serene, alive without regard for our opinions and rules.  The work in women's health and labor is to listen to the wisdom in our bodies. We learn to allow the body to do what it needs to do. We learn to trust its instincts, needs, and truths.