The Sacred Body

We are unique manifestations of the Universe.

Each of us is a roll of a billion dice, a singular event in the history of the Cosmos that has never been before, nor will be again.

And what we comprise—all that we are, insofar as the available information would indicate—is of our bodies.

We are our bodies.  

It is our bodies which perceive, which act, which experience. Our bodies which think, which feel, which create. Our bodies are, in fact, the Universe perceiving itself.

The Cosmos crafted each of us, according to physical laws played out in near-miraculous, painstaking detail. Each of us is a magnificent expression of the Universe…one that deserves respect, and reverence, and love.

Remembering this is a part of my Atheopagan practice. I don’t claim to be good at it, but I try to regard all the functions of the body as sacred and positive: breathing, eating, drinking, sex, reproduction, even excretion (which offers food for countless other creatures) is sacred.

This is at extreme odds with the values of the mainstream Western culture, which views the body as “dirty” and its functions as either embarrassing or shameful. It may be the point at which Pagan culture diverges most significantly from the value set of the Abrahamic monotheisms.

Taking care of our physical selves through eating, exercising and sleeping well is a core strategy for increased happiness. Ritually, we can re-sacralize our experience of the body and its processes through meal blessings, ritual baths with special soaps or scents, awareness hikes, and so forth. Some pampering is good for the Deep Self!

I even know someone who has a Bathroom Prayer: May all I no longer need pass through me, to serve and sustain the World. Sounds a little weird, I know, but…it’s kinda nice.

The sacredness of the body also connects to “consent culture”, the core principle of which is that all of us should be secure in our persons and not have anything happen to or with our bodies to which we do not affirmatively consent. Consent culture is a topic of much conversation in the Pagan community lately—and has been, even long before it was a topic of news and public policy. I have been pleased to see its “mainstreaming” as growing acknowledgement of rape culture and the disrespect for the sovereignty of (especially) women’s bodies has grown. The State of California recently passed an “affirmative consent” standard and required that consent be taught in high school curricula: a very positive step.

This is in many ways the cutting edge of where we are growing as a society. We have a long way to go. But those of us who hold the body sacred, who value it rather than despising or having contempt for it, are ahead of the curve in acknowledging the problem and committing to change to meet it.

Love your body: whatever its shape, whatever it’s doing. It’s you.

 

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