“In Mormon [and Christian] theology, the Holy Trinity is composed of God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We call this the Godhead.
Where is the Motherbody?”
Terry Tempest Williams
It’s no wonder, to me, that so much of religion is terrified of bodies. They are deep sources of knowing, unable to tell lies, teaching us all we need for self-reliance, nourishment, enjoyment, pleasure, healing, the cycles of inhaling and exhaling (living and dying and living again) – things that the church would rather have a monopoly on. If we were truly at home in our bodies, truly in tune with their wisdom, truly in love with their form and function, we would have no need for religion.
The Church wants to tell us what is good – but the body already knows.
The Church wants to tell us what we need – but the body already knows.
The Church wants to tell us how to heal – but the body already knows.
The Church wants to tell us how to move – but the body already knows.
Do you see how threatening this is?
It would be generous to categorize this as neglect. Christianity, for the overwhelming majority of its history, has been by men for men. The women’s names have been erased from the scriptures, erased from the histories (with many ‘Desert Mothers’ not being named, despite some evidence that they existed in equal numbers to Desert Fathers), erased from the membership rolls (Mr. and Mrs. John Smith…).
The two women we receive from the patriarchal gospels are on either extreme: Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, who had an immaculate conception (and an immaculate delivery, apparently, because I’ve never seen so much as a stained robe much less the placenta in a manger scene) – this untouched asexual harmless woman is your only female phone line in to The Almighty.
The other option is Mary Magdalene, the other hero who we know and love because she repented of her sexuality, was healed of her bodily appetites, and now follows a better way. Maybe you could make a case for Mary and Martha, but even then, we’re left with domestic chores or sitting at a man’s feet.
How can we possibly be surprised that we judge people’s piety based on their “purity”?
How can we possibly be surprised that we haven’t heard of the Christian female mystics who would orgasm from prayer?
We have made our bodies into slaves so that we can become servants of God. The church demands authority and subjugation, so we give it. And so, of course, the body becomes divorced from the spirit. The bifurcated self is then colonized by something external, because suddenly some part of the self has been externalized – the soul.
That which is touted to be pure and spotless and deathless and naïve and weightless and, most of all, unreachable. You will spend your entire life trying to destroy your substance so as to reach the ephemeral. You will starve your body, punish it, revile it, compare it, hate it, sculpt it to be more like the abstract form that you desire, to try to turn this actuality into the potential that you have been sold.
I don’t know if we treat the earth like our bodies or treat our bodies like we treat the earth, but I know that we don’t have a healthy relationship with either one. When the material world exists purely for the utility of the spiritual realm (in the invented world of their separation), of course we’re going to scar the earth and do irreparable damage, of course we’re going to pollute and destroy its beauty, of course we’re going to ignore the warning signs and coming troubles. In the end, who needs it anyway?
In some cultures, thankfully, women’s bodies are meant to be round like the earth, for all that they hold. Women’s sensuality and sexuality do not exist for consumption alone. Women’s ways of knowing, deep knowing from the fire in her belly, are still revered.
We need Mother God, Mother Earth, and Mother Bodies to bring balance to God the Father, the Patriarchal Church, and Our Neglected Bodies.
But in the patriarchy that seems to inextricable with western religion, bodies, the earth, and femininity are all conquered, sanitized, and made into tools for other’s gain.
How can we possibly be surprised when the earth is boiling over in rage?
How can we possibly be surprised that we have a rape culture, and epidemic of disordered eating, and a sedentary nation?
“If we could introduce the Motherbody as a spiritual counterpoint to the Godhead, perhaps our inspiration and devotion would no longer be directed to the stars, but our worship could return to the earth.” – Terry Tempest Williams
But all hope is not lost. While much of yoga, dance, and fitness serves this mind/body split and have become tools for more punishment and rejection of our natural selves, the spark of embodiment is catching fire.
In small, but invaluable, instances, we find people desperate to live in bodies again. To feel good in the way they move: to sway their hips and feel the strength of their legs and the soft lips of their lover and the crisp air in their lungs and warmth of their skin. And so people are flocking to yoga studios and dance music and fitness centers and hiking clubs and picnic blankets.
In eastern thought, the right side of the body is considered masculine and the left side of the body is considered feminine. Anatomically, digestion happens in our large intestine in three stages: the ascending colon, the transverse colon, and the descending colon. Up, Over, and Down. Right to Left.
We have a lot of digesting to do: of experiences, insight, consequences of our actions. We’ve been going up up and away in the male-dominated sphere long enough. It’s about damn time we make the shift over and begin to go down and in to the feminine ways and ways of knowing. It’s the only way we’ll be able to get what we need and leave the waste behind.
“If anything is sacred, the human body is sacred.” – Walt Whitman
Heaven forbid we ever believe this.
 While bodies have differing levels of abilities, health, and function, they are brilliant and wise if we are willing and open to listening well.