Thursday, February 19, 2009

Earth my body, water my blood

So go the words to a popular Wiccan chant. ("Earth my body, water my blood, air my breath, and fire my spirit." Alternatively, "earth Her body..." etc.)

I'm sure I'm not the first breastfeeding woman to make this observation: whoever crafted Jesus's words to his followers at the Last Supper surely had a breastfeeding woman in mind (or was herself a breastfeeding woman?).

"Take and eat. This is my body given for you. Take and drink. This is my blood shed for you."

These words are biblical and appear as part of the liturgy for holy communion recited in Catholic and Protestant churches.

[In Chinese medicine, breast milk and blood are considered the same substance. Thus the breastfeeding woman to stay in good health should build her blood (e.g. by eating iron-rich foods and taking herbs like astragalus) since she generates and loses extra "blood" each day.]

We Goddess-folk can get a little itchy if we think our experiences are being appropriated by patriarchal religion. It's difficult not to wonder why Christianity had to assign a central ability and task in the lives of women to their Main Guy and elevate it to the central and supreme sacrifice of the faith. Jesus gets mad props for making this sacrifice; his willingness and generosity are signs of his divinity.

But women are the ones who literally give of our body and blood so others might live. And that gift is one of life begetting life, not one of death begetting life. Also, the earth is conceived of as a Mother largely because She provides food and water for her creatures. She provides all the nourishment we need. And, in right relationship with us, She regenerates and can continue to feed us. No "ultimate sacrifice" is necessary.

Women's work - and dear Goddess can I now testify to breastfeeding's being work! - goes unnoticed and unheeded. It's mostly taken for granted. But attribute these qualities to some guy and call him the Messiah, and all of a sudden it's a big deal.

Frackin' patriarchy.


Anonymous said...

Great observation. A friend of mine often comments that Jesus gets all this credit for being "a better woman than women," and what a classic patriarchal turnaround that is.

Anonymous said...

Yes, yes and yes. When my first child was born and I looked at him with pure love and I knew that original sin was a lie and an insidious means of control. Energy is work. It takes energy to love, to care. Just make sure you have a way to re energize.Blessings

Anonymous said...

The root word of religion is the Latin word religio meaning control.