This prayer came to me recently in waking sleep:
Our Mother whose body is the Earth,
Blessed are you,
And blessed are all the fruits of your womb.
You give us this day our daily bread,
And we share it with others.
Our Mother whose body is the Earth,
We love you with all our hearts,
And our neighbors as ourselves.
“Our Mother Whose Body Is the Earth” is a creative synthesis of elements of the Hail Mary, the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus’ two great commandments via Charles Hartshorne, Hebrew blessings via Marcia Falk, process philosophy, and the central principles of earth-based religions, gratitude and sharing, that I discovered on Goddess Pilgrimages to Crete.
“Our Father who art in Heaven” becomes “Our Mother whose body is the Earth.” Transcendence of the earth and the body are replaced with immanence, suggesting that the earth and the body are good. Our mothers’ bodies are the source of our lives. Our Mother’s body is the Source of all life on our planet. The earth as the body of the Mother is a very ancient conception. Process philosopher Charles Hartshorne says that the earth as the divine body is the best rational model for understanding the intimate relationship of God to the world.
“Blessed are you.” These words are the source of “hallowed be,” are found in Hebrew blessings and in the Hail Mary, and go back to the beginnings of prayers of gratitude and thanksgiving. The circular nature of blessing is well-expressed in the Faith Rogow‘s song: “As we bless the Source of life, so we are blessed.”
“Blessed are all the fruits of your womb.” This too is a very ancient notion. The Hail Mary blesses “the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.” The new prayer restores the understanding that all of life is sacred. This replaces “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Goddess is in the world that is her body, not ruling it from on high.
“You give us this day our daily bread.” The Lord’s Prayer asks, “Give us this day our daily bread.” In this prayer the gift of daily bread is understood to have been freely given with the gift of life. Baking bread is one of the great discoveries women made in the early days of the agricultural revolution.
“And we share it with others.” Sharing is the second great principle of earth-based religions which recognize the interdependence of life.
“Our Mother whose body is the Earth.” The Source of Life is addressed at the beginning and end of the prayer. This is an affirmation of the cyclical nature of life.
“We love you with all our hearts.” A few days before this prayer came to me in the night, I had written that Charles Hartshorne said that the “two great commandments”: to love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself, though attributed to Jesus, can also be said to follow rationally from the understanding of God as love. Traditional communities understood that what has been given is to be shared. The statement “We love you with all our hearts” replaces “For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.” We love the Mother without needing to separate her realm from ours.
“And our neighbors as ourselves.” We have been taught to love our neighbor instead of ourselves, before ourselves, or at the expense of ourselves, but as Charles Hartshorne pointed out, we cannot love our neighbor as ourselves if we do not love ourselves too. The last line of the prayer replaces “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” An affirmative and aspirational statement about how we should live replaces a focus in the Lord’s Prayer on transgression and forgiveness.
The 4th and 5th lines of the prayer and the 7th and 8th lines are two ways of saying the same thing.
The prayer as a whole is affirms that blessing and being blessed, giving thanks and sharing, are interconnected aspects of interdependent life.*
Creative Synthesis, the title of a book by Charles Hartshorne, reminds us that in an interdependent world no one creates out of nothing. The references in the new prayer to other prayers add resonance and are part of its meaning.
Blessed be the memory of Charles Hartshorne
and all our ancestors going back to the beginning of time.
*I have been praying this prayer using my Herchurch Goddess rosary, one line for each major bead, beginning with the Goddess image and the two beads at the beginning and end of the circle. The prayer doesn’t fit perfectly, but that doesn’t matter; when I come back to the Goddess image, I begin again. I like that “blessed are all the fruits of your womb” coincides with the 3 larger beads in the circle of beads. Any beads can be used.
Carol P. Christ will be leading life-transforming Goddess Pilgrimages to Crete through Ariadne Institute this spring and fall. Join her and learn more about prepatriarchal woman-honoring Goddess cultures. She spoke on a WATER Teleconference recently which you can listen to now if you missed it. Her books include She Who Changes and Rebirth of the Goddess and the widely used anthologies Womanspirit Rising and Weaving the Visions.
15 thoughts on “Our Mother Whose Body Is The Earth by Carol P. Christ”
Thank you for Our Mother’s Prayer, Carol, so profoundly beautiful and wonderfully empowering! Feminism has always been a faithful friend to Environmentalism. It may be it’s mother. Love of the Earth has always been rooted intuitively in respect for the feminine, while abuse of the Earth, sometimes even referred to as the Rape of the Earth, derives from disrespect. Uniquely, in our era, it is given to us to nurture and to activate, one exceedingly important, profoundly spiritual and philosophical idea called Eco-Feminism. Respect for women and respect for Nature go hand in hand.
The prayer touches me very deeply. Thank you.
This prayer works so well to tell the story of how we need to honor the feminine and the earth. This now becomes part of my daily ritual.
Carol, your prayer also has classical ancestry. “Blessed are you” is also related to the beatus ille (“blessed is he”) found in Vergil’s Georgics, which is basically about how “man” is happier when he’s living in the country and tending the earth (and bees) than he is living in the city (Rome). The so-called Georgian poets of 18th-century England adopted Vergil’s style and subject and also wrote beatus ille poems. And then, of course, there’s also the “blessed be” that the witches say.
As a child growing up on a small farm with a grandfather who kept bees, thank you for the information about Vergil Georgics which I must now find and read.
Carol, I just posted this blog entry of yours on FaceBook and I hope that I am not the only one. You have given us something very Holy indeed.
Beautiful, Carol. Thank you!
Thanks, Carol, for this lovely prayer. And for your description of how it came to be. By the wya, Charles Hartshorne is not the only one who understood that in an interdependent world, no one creates out of nothing. There are almost no indigenous creation myths that see the world as created ex nihilo. You have to have a power-over god to do that.
As I have already told you Carol, I love this prayer – it touches me so very deeply and I am now saying it my children as part of our daily altar ritual. Blessed Be x
Beautiful and heartfelt. The importance of sharing is something the modern western world has lost. Apparently the Native Americans believed the hording of possessions to be a mental illness. A person’s wealth was determined by how much they shared not by how much they horded for themselves.
I used to attend a Catholic mass every day on my lunch hour, mostly because I had a job near to the chapel, and it was helpful in terms of the quietude and meditation. But every time I had to say the Our Father, I would get disgruntled. There is something so totally healing in your prayer, Carol, I can’t quite describe it. All I can say is, Freedom at last!
When someone starts reciting “Our Father…” This is what I say, “Our Creator who art all around us, hallowed be thy names. The Eden come thy will be done on Earth as it is in the Heavens, And give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses and we forgive those who trespass against. And lead us away from temptation and deliver us from evil. For thine is the Eden, the power, and the glory for ever and ever.”
Wonderful! My life would be so different if I could have recited this prayer rather than the version I was taught to blabber mechanically in Catholic school. I once read a version of The Lord’s Prayer that was a direct translation from Aramaic to English. It began with: Our Mother-Father who art in heaven…..
Our ancient wisdom-ancestors never separated gender when addressing the Great Spirit.
This is a truly heartfelt and meaningful prayer to our Mother, whose body truly is the earth. May she forgive us all for the ravages that continue to be inflicted so brutally upon her. Marcia Bedad