As an ex-Christian I find myself having rather strange knee jerk reactions. For example, if I am out and about with the children (pre-COVID) and I get a scandalized look from another mother when the word fuck freely flows from my lips, my immediate reaction is not to look down, or away, or mutter an apology. My immediate reaction is to look her straight in the eye and say it louder and clearly enunciate.
But I have a harder time navigating spirituality in it’s various forms and traditions because of this very kind of knee jerk reaction. The concept of “spiritual hygiene” for instance. I can hardly read the words without revulsion. If it’s immediately followed by “cleanse yourself after sex” I must immediate put down the book and come back later. Because after 28 years of Christian oppression, I won’t crack open the door, even the slightest bit, that sexuality, and the body, are any less holy or clean than pure spirit and energy. I will bathe in the sex juices of my partners before I will feel ashamed of my pleasure, my connection, or my body and all of its functions.
Even during the attempted brainwashing, some part of me knew it was bullshit. I used to get in arguments with my cousin about it all the time. We went to church at least 3x a week and every time I was expected to dress up to some degree and at one point I just refused. I was going to wear holey jeans and an oversized, paint stained sweatshirt. Because why on earth would the vast and sole god of the universe give half of a shit about what I, a twelve year old girl going to a rural church in Arkansas, was wearing?
It took me longer to see the through the gnosticism buried in the doctrine of female purity. Virginity is sacred and something to be lost or taken. AIt defines a woman’s worth until it is bartered away. Women have to cleanse themselves spiritually after menstruating, as if the act of not being pregnant is somehow dirty. Women have to cleanse after childbirth, and for absolutely no reason, have to cleanse themselves for longer if they birth a female child. As if the act of childbirth is not in itself a holy baptism for mother and child. Women have to be careful to not arouse men by constantly hiding their bodies. Women have to be careful to constantly arouse men by having those bodies fit male ideas of beauty so as to have any worth at all.
And just like twelve year old me, I refuse. Our bodies are gifts, not perversions. Their functions are mystical, spiritual, and frankly often hilarious. I will not wipe every trace of my humanity away before I approach the divine. I wear this soul garment proudly. I show off every scar, every stretch mark, every chunk of cellulite, every wrinkle, every laugh line. I am proud of my empty womb, and delight in the pleasure and moisture that I receive at any time I choose. I delight in my lips and the ability to speak, but also to kiss. Both are blessings. Hands are made for touching, arms for holding, skin for feeling, and clitorises for exploding. How in god’s name is it somehow more honorable to ignore all of those things, to not only pretend they don’t exist, but actively suppress them in order to be closer to the divine? Talk about spitting at the feet of the gift giver.
Because there is only one reason I have been able to think of that makes any sense. Control. Deny yourself. Denounce yourself. Hide yourself. And do what is mandated to save your soul.
And to that trumpet call of blasphemous patriarchy, I do what I do to judgmental mom’s at the playground. I look it in the eye, and I enunciate. Loudly.
That being said, I do have to agree that if you are setting up an ancestor altar, your bedroom might not be the wisest choice. Not because sex is somehow dirty or wrong, but because in the same way I literally cannot wrap my head around the fact that my parents ever did that, let alone to each other, my grandma most likely does not have a kink for watching me do it.
And also, if one has a tooty booty, like myself, and perhaps not get through an entire meditation session without releasing some healthy bodily gasses, incense might be your friend. Again, not because it is unholy, just because the smell might be.
Look, if the deities that be wanted it to be an act of worship they would have made better smelling bacteria. The end.