The Nine Touchstones of Spirituality: Nurture Life

Apr 17th, 2018 | By | Category: Articles, Feminist Craft

As I wrote in my last entry, Carol Christ’s “Nine Touchstones of Goddess Spirituality” is one of the guiding texts of my spiritual practice. Taking a deep dive into these nine touchstones is valuable as we seek to understand not just the practice but the ethics and thealogy of Feminist Witchcraft. While not all Feminist Witches take Christ’s touchstones as part of their practice, they are a useful set of principles for understanding the ways in which Witchcraft and Feminism can intertwine and mutually inform one another.

Christ’s first touchstone is “Nurture Life.” One of the things I have always appreciated about Goddess Spirituality and the form of Feminist Witchcraft I practice is that it is, fundamentally, life-affirming. It presented a major contrast to the Christianity with which I was raised, in which the focus was on the afterlife, on getting to Heaven, and on denying or merely enduring this earthly existence. The body was something dirty, something to be overcome and denied, in the form of Christianity I knew growing up. When I found Goddess Spirituality and Feminist Craft, it was their embodied nature which drew me. Here was a religion that said that this earthly life is worth celebrating, that my body was worth honoring, that there was joy to be found in being recklessly, wildly, unashamedly alive.

What does it mean to Nurture Life in the context of Goddess Spirituality? On its face, this seems a simple enough question. We nurture life through the simple acts of gardening, of caring for animals, of caring for other humans, of caring for ourselves. We honor the life spark in everything, and seek to amplify that spark. We recognize that life is interconnected, and seek to modulate our impact on the planet and the lives around us.

For some Goddess Women and Feminist Witches, nurturing life means going vegetarian or vegan; for others, like myself, it means being aware of the conditions under which our food is produced (like exploitation of farm workers) and making the most ethical choices possible while recognizing that there is no ethical consumption under capitalism. For others, it means gardening, raising chickens, going back to the land. Nurturing life can look like raising children with life-affirming principles. It can look like animal rescue. It can look like choosing organic, like learning a healing profession, like attempting to walk lightly upon the Earth.

But nurturing life as a spiritual principle goes beyond that for me, and for many of the Goddess Women and Feminist Witches I know. Nurturing life means not just keeping someone or something alive, but helping to ensure that the life is as free, as healthy, and as just as possible. (There are interesting things to be said here about the fact that most Goddess Women and Feminist Witches I have ever met are stridently pro-choice, and do not see this at odds with their belief that life should be nurtured – though that is another entry for another day.) In our quest to nurture life, we recognize that justice – economic, social, gender, environmental – is a must. We cannot nurture life in an environment that is being slowly poisoned, and poisoning all life in the process. We cannot nurture life in a society in which people of color are imprisoned at exponential rates, are shot by law enforcement with impunity. We cannot nurture life in a society which disagrees that all people are fundamentally humans and denies basic rights and dignity to queer people, to immigrants, to people of color, to the poor, to people with disabilities.

A society in which there is no justice is not a life-affirming society.

And to nurture life, we must go beyond our individual actions and act on a societal level to ensure that our society becomes one that nurtures and affirms life.

Justice, Dr. Cornell West said, is what love looks like in public. Love is the core of the way in which we nurture life.

We find the Divine, living spark in all things, including ourselves, and we seek to keep that flame alive.

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