You are your own
Your feet are always
on temple ground.
One of the key factors to me that differentiates feminist spiritual paths from many dominant religious traditions and frameworks is the recognition and acknowledgement of the body as a source of wisdom, a source of pleasure, a source of learning, and a source of knowing. Not viewed as unclean, dirty, or as something to be mistrusted or transcended, we can return to our bodies again and again, dropping down into our bellies, bones, and blood, returning to center, and returning home to ourselves. Those who embark into thealogy quickly realize that it is a spirituality better lived than analyzed. My own experience of my goddess-oriented path is an intensely embodied one. I am here on this earth, in this body, my feet on the ground, my eyes on the sky, listening, feeling, and sensing. This, to me, is sacredness in motion, this is the Goddess right in front of me, she is witnessed in the very fact that my pulse beats in my wrist and that my eyes alight on those three crows coasting lightly into the treetops.
Sara Avant Stover, writing in the Book of SHE says: “Our bodies aren’t indentured servants here to labor for us until we take our dying breath. They are sacred chalices . . . . Our bodies always tell the truth and hold the information we need to thrive” (p. 43).
And, one of my favorite quotes of all comes from Camille Maurine in Meditations Secrets for Women who writes: “Your body is your own. This may seem obvious. But to inhabit your physical self fully, with no apology, is a true act of power.
At one time, I would have focused my attention primarily on women and encouraging women to trust their bodies, to listen to their bodies, and to honor their bodies. I’ve come to see that a goddess-centered approach to ethics, values, and embodied spiritual experience includes all people who have a body. In my heart of hearts I would like all people to value their bodies, honor their bodies, trust their bodies, and listen to their bodies. I think if this was true, the fundamental way in which we relate to, treat, and care for one another would change and the feminist values of cooperation, compassion, and empathy would come to form the foundation of society. Every single one of us begins life within someone else’s body. We enter the world through someone’s body. And, we have a body that interacts with other bodies for our entire lives. This is altogether simple, obvious, and profound. Our bodies are our seats of reality, of being human, of being present in the world. A life firmly rooted in concept of the body as sacred, no longer allows room for violation of or harm to others.
Carol Christ writes in Rebirth of the Goddess: “The rituals and symbols of Goddess religion…[bring] experience and deep feeling to consciousness so that they can shape our lives; helping us broaden and deepen our understanding of our interdependence to include all beings and all people; binding us to others and shaping communities in which concern for the earth and all people can be embodied.”
When I talk to other people about self-trust and building self-trust, I often encourage them to check in with their bodies for a physical response to a decision, idea, choice, or happening. Where does it land in your body? What do you feel inside when you think about making this decision or taking this action? Does your body respond with a “yes” or a “no” when you think about this idea? For me, the sensation comes in my chest, around my heart—a lightening or expansion or a contraction or heaviness. This is not what all people will experience, perhaps you feel the answer in your belly, in your head, around your jaw. Perhaps you feel it as a color, sensation of warmth or coolness, or as a “rightness of being.”
I must also acknowledge that many people have experienced some form of physical trauma or abuse in their lives and that these experiences can complicate our relationships with our bodies, our sense of intuition, and our trust in ourselves. If your body has been a site of violation, it may be more difficult or complex to connect to this body-based sense of “knowing” or intuition that I reference and I do not wish to oversimplify what can be a complex and multilayered personal experience of embodiment.
In the books A Deeper Wisdom: The Twelve Steps from a Woman’s Perspective by Patricia Lynn Reilly and the The Book of SHE, there arises a theme of the body as home, and I would like to offer some questions today based on this theme:
- What is your inner “house” like?
- Does something need tending?
- Where do you need to clear something out?
- If you mentally walk through your body, what do you see?
- What is your body as home like for you? How re-sourced is it?
- What needs attention within you?
- Do you have a sense of your inner and outer ground?
- What do you feel in your belly, right now?
I have been leading a process this year called #30DaysofGoddess and one of the things I suggest on some of the days is to offer a “body prayer.” Since people have asked for additional guidance with what that means, I sat on my yoga mat one morning and let a body prayer emerge. After I moved through the motions, I typed it out and I offer it to you now (as well as prayercard version of it). May it nourish you.
A Body Blessing:
Fold your hands
in front of your heart,
feel your palms warm
and your pulse beat.
Kiss your fingertips.
Raise your hands and
cradle your face with love
move one hand
to the top of your head
and one to your heart.
Cross your arms over your chest,
one hand on each shoulder
and sway back and forth gently.
Kiss your palms
and lay them upon your belly.
Run your hands down your legs.
Wiggle your toes.
Fold your hands in prayer pose
and bring them back to your heart-level.
and then open your hands.
Gaze into them.
Envision the day’s potential
What do you see
in your own cupped palms?
Kiss your fingertips again
and whisper what it is you
need to hear.
Note: I do have a companion video about the body as home here.
Molly Remer’s new book Walking with Persephone is now available for pre-order from Womancraft Publishing. Her prayerbook, Whole and Holy: a Goddess Devotional was published in November. Molly has been gathering the community to circle, sing, celebrate, and share since 2008. She plans and facilitates women’s circles, seasonal retreats and rituals, mother-daughter circles, family ceremonies, and red tent circles in rural Missouri. She is a priestess who holds MSW, M.Div, and D.Min degrees and wrote her dissertation about contemporary priestessing in the U.S. Molly and her husband Mark co-create Story Goddesses, original goddess sculptures, ceremony kits, mini goddesses, and more at Brigid’s Grove. Molly is the author of Womanrunes, Earthprayer, Sunlight on Cedar, the Goddess Devotional, She Lives Her Poems, and The Red Tent Resource Kit and she writes about thealogy, nature, practical priestessing, and the goddess at Patreon, Brigid’s Grove, Feminism and Religion, and Sage Woman Magazine.