Walk in love and beauty.
Trust the knowledge that comes through the body.
Speak the truth about conflict, pain, and suffering.
Take only what you need.
Think about the consequences of your actions for seven generations.
Approach the taking of life with great restraint.
Practice great generosity.
Repair the web
In Rebirth of the Goddess, I offered Nine Touchstones of Goddess Spirituality as an alternative to the Ten Commandments. The Nine Touchstones are intended to inform all our relationships, whether personal, communal, social, or political.
The second touchstone, “Walk in love and beauty,” derives from the insight that love and beauty are the great gifts of bounteous earth. Just recently at a meeting of the Green Party Greece, one of our representatives in Parliament, Giorgos Dimaras, said to me, “It all begins with love.” He understands that our Green Party principles of environmental sustainability, social justice, no violence, and participatory democracy are rooted in the prior value of love. If we do not love nature, then why would we care about saving it? If we do not love others, why would we care about injustice and suffering? If we do not love the world, why would we care about creating peace on earth? If we do love others, why would we care about creating ways to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard in our families, communities, and societies?
It unusual to hear love spoken about in a political context. We have learned that love belongs in the realm of the personal or the spiritual, but certainly not in political realm where “hard” decisions have to be made. We have been told that politics must be based in reason, not emotion. I wonder if our Green Party representative would dare to say “it all begins with love” in Parliament. And if he did, who would listen?
Some believe love is a strictly human feeling, but most of us know that animals love and respond to love. Those who speak to plants, including many traditional farmers, as well as urban and suburban gardeners, know that plants also respond to love. It is increasingly understood that the cells of our bodies respond to the conscious and unconscious feelings and thoughts we have about our bodies. Some of us have been taught to think romantic love is the most important form of love. But other forms of love, including mother love and the love of friends, are equally valuable and often more sustaining.
Beauty is a complicated issue in modern societies because we have been taught that female beauty is to be judged by a beauty standard against which most of us are found wanting. “5’2” and eyes of blue” was the beauty standard in my youth, while today the ideal is super thin and androgynous. No matter what the current standard, most of us fail to measure up. Some of us come closer than others. Dark skin has rarely been viewed as the most beautiful.
The Navajo Beauty Way has nothing to do with beauty standards. When the Navajos speak of walking in beauty, they refer to a way of being in the world in which one takes time to appreciate the beauty of every living thing in its uniqueness. A tall redwood tree is beautiful, but just as beautiful are the ferns that grow and its feet, and the moss that grows on its bark. A child is beautiful in innocence, and an elder is beautiful in wisdom. The spring flowers are beautiful, but so is the more barren winter landscape.
When we walk in beauty we also want to create beautiful things. We want our homes and workplaces to be beautiful, we want our streets and community spaces to be beautiful, we want the world to be beautiful. One of my Cretan friends, Nikos Markakis, was fond of saying, “People never created anything as beautiful as nature.” I believe he was right. The only things that are truly ugly in our world are created by people: decaying cities, oceans filled with garbage, the devastation of war. When we walk the beauty way, we are inspired to create beauty all around us.
Sometimes we respond to beauty by grasping. We say, “I want to have that.” “Or can I have that?” Just this morning when I was appreciating blue corn flowers growing in an untended area in front of the house I was renting, I thought of picking them. Instead, I decided to leave them where they were, hoping I would see them in the same place another day. Love is the appropriate response to the perception of beauty. And sometimes the best way to love is simply to appreciate.
It goes without saying that the world would be very different if we all walked in love and beauty every day and in every way. We would not tolerate the violation of beauty. We would not tolerate the violation of love. We would not tolerate the violation of life.
Carol P. Christ is an internationally known feminist writer and educator currently living in Lasithi Prefecture, Crete. Carol’s recent book written with Judith Plaskow, Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology, is on Amazon. A Serpentine Path: Mysteries of the Goddess is on sale for $10.98 on Amazon. Carol has been leading Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete for over twenty years: join her in Crete. Carol’s photo by Michael Honegger.