The Legacy of Carol P. Christ: Our Mother Whose Body Is The Earth

This was originally posted on March 11, 2013

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 Synthesisthe 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.

BIO: Carol P. Christ (1945-2021) was an internationally known feminist and ecofeminist writer, activist, and educator. Her work continues through her non-profit foundation, the Ariadne Institute for the Study of Myth and Ritual.

“In Goddess religion death is not feared, but is understood to be a part of life, followed by birth and renewal.”  — Carol P. Christ 



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3 replies

  1. Love it! Carol turned some very ordinary prayers used by people without thinking about what they were saying into profound and true thoughts about Our Mother the Ancient Goddess. Brava!!!

    Carol, wherever you are, rest well. But don’t forget all the excellent work you did in this most recent life. I wonder if it’s possible to come back and continue that work. Does anybody know? Bright blessings to all of us.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love Carol’s 9 Touchstones, which replace the Ten “Commandments”.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Blessed be the memory of Carol P. Christ. Your article was the impetus that persuaded me to read Hartshorne’s “Creative Synthesis”. Again, thank you Carol, for your influence beyond “the grave”!

    Like

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