Divinity swept through Her and around Her, touching her with its sweet fingers, blessing her with infinite aromatic and aesthetic mysteries. Softer than silk, sweeter than honey, She is blessed with tenderness, and She alone has the gift to replenish and nurture another life. Her breasts lovely, her womb is sacred, and in Her shadow we stand in awe, incapable of surmounting the beauty of Woman.
The form of womankind has been the focus of artists throughout recorded history. Botticelli, Rembrandt, Gauguin all explored the flesh of woman, and painted with care, capturing the luminescence of color, the softness of skin, the inviolability of her aura. But in modern culture, the role of woman has become somehow dehumanized and made into an object. Pornography, rape, violence and misogyny have turned the gift of womanhood into something to be abhorred and misunderstood–something to be ashamed of. But regardless of how modern man treats woman, her body is unique, her psyche is unique, and her link to Life and the Goddess is unique because in womanhood there is something of life that can never be recaptured or mimicked by man.
The Goddess gave birth to the Universe, and when woman was created, she was created with the specific intent to give and shape life, to nurture and to love. Her aggression and her anger are her most primordial emotions, a gift from the God to ensure that she could protect herself and her young. She was never meant to be passive or quiet; her voice was given to her to be heard, and to be adored. If she is not heard, it is because the grumbling of those around her are too loud, and if she appears weak, it is because she is burdened by life and by others. But if the Goddess is strong, then woman is strong. And if the Goddess is beautiful, then woman is beautiful.
It is easy for women to get caught up in the traditional role that western society has always created for them. It is easy for women to desire nothing more than motherhood, wifedom and submission to a life of slavery and inhibition. It is easy to do these things because we are taught that this is what women do. We are taught that women, like children, are seen and not heard. We are taught that our bodies are weak and we therefore are inferior. We are taught that our bodies, because the have odors distinctly feminine, are dirty and therefore are something we should hide, or at the very least be ashamed of. We are taught that our monthly flow is vile, and that our blood is something strange because men do not have to endure it.
Of course, none of these things is true. Women are the vessels that harbor life, and all that comes with that is to be considered sacred as well. In many traditions, the passing of the monthly blood is considered dirty and during this time, the woman cannot travel or prepare food, lest the food be cursed. But in Babylonian mythology, the Full Moon was the time when the Moon Goddess, Ishtar, shed her blood, and at this time, the world was covered in her blood. At the time of the Full Moon, therefore, no one was allowed to work, because when the moon bled, the curse fell on everyone. Of course, these people began to see the passing as not a curse, but a blessing, for as any day free of work is a holiday. These holy days were called Sabbats (where we get the word today), and soon became weekly instead of monthly for Christian people, who use the term Sabbath to mean Sunday. But originally the holiday came from the passing of the woman’s blood.
It is true that women’s bodies are weaker than the bodies of men, but to draw the conclusion that women are the weaker sex is folly. Women sustain greater pain in life than men, because women bear children, and in fact, women are said to have a greater tolerance for pain. Secondly, women are the peacemakers. It is easier to give in to anger and violently confront your aggressors than it is to draw a median, negotiate and come to a mutual understanding. This is the role of woman. She is the care giver, the life bringer and the creator. All begins with woman and all ends with her.
The woman is also a warrior. Just as the lioness hunts and protects her young, women do the same thing. When danger approaches, she puts on the face of the Morrigan and becomes the warrior. She is strong if she needs to be, and she can draw blood should circumstance demand it. Yet though she can bark and bite, woman can also purr and coo, and bring man to his knees, just as the Goddess Aphrodite has been known to do. Even in Christian mythology, Eve tempted Adam with her sultry good looks and coy personality. But unlike Christian theology, which condemns all the ills of mankind on woman, our religion glorifies womanhood. Our religion upholds the Goddess, nude, soft, graceful and all, accepting her in her three aspects of maiden, matron and crone. She is the young, virginal sprite in the woods, the seductress nymph, bursting with juices of life, and she is the old mother, nurturing and wise in her old age. Woman too is all of these things throughout her life, and because she can change like the seasons, and because the Goddess has shaped her to mark the passage of time, her body is sacred and beautiful.
The sexuality of woman is to be explored. The Goddess said that all acts of pleasure and joy are Hers, and this includes sexuality. Woman should be free to express themselves freely with her lover, taking him in slowly, playing him sweetly like a harp, or devouring him with relish, with the fervor of the sea in a storm. She should not be afraid to take control of her lover, to guide him (or her) and to achieve ecstasy, for her body was created by the Goddess to achieve this state. To deny the body this pleasure is to deny a part of the Goddess. This is not to say that women should be careless or too free with their gifts, for a woman’s body is indeed a gift, and should only be given to those that she loves. She should never abuse her body, nor allow others to do so. The body of the woman is a temple, a place for life, a place of sanctity.
And Iemaja spoke, with fire in her eyes,
“You shall be made of me, of My Moon, of My Shadows, of My Pain and My Joy. You shall bring life unto the Earth, and you shall spread love to all those you shall meet. This is your job as woman, and you shall kneel before no one. You are the Creators. All begins and ends with you.”