Belly Magic: Blessings from Your Body’s Center
What if your belly — the most maligned feature of women's bodies — were not shameful but sacred? What if your belly were home to the profound wisdom, power, and guidance ready to reveal itself to you through image, breath, story, and ritual? What if your body's center were in fact sacred space, temple of the Sacred Feminine as She lives within you?
If you want to make peace with your body and your belly — if you want to claim the treasure waiting for you within your body's core — join me on this journey of discovery. We'll invoke story, image, breath, ritual, and more as we go.
Get Your Belly Out
There's something immensely powerful in women baring our bellies.
Quoted in The Woman's Belly Book, a woman describes what would happen when her daughter, as a toddler, met someone for the first time: She'd lift her shirt up and show them her belly.
Here's an adult, and global, example. "Get Your Belly Out" is a worldwide campaign that four women in the UK have launched to raise awareness of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Crohn's disease, and colitis — all ways of naming the belly's deep distress. Using Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, supporters are posting photos of their bellies bared. They're also donating to research that will generate a cure for these gut-wrenching diseases.
I love how bellies bared for the camera make such an impact. They're saying: "Here I am, you can't ignore me now." When women bare bellies in a joint enterprise, the message is: "Here we are, you can't ignore us now."
There's power in such enterprises, yes?
In 2008, two women in Austin, Texas — Karen Rayne and Christy Tashjian — launched their photo-invitational Belly Project. And in 2011, xojane.com launched the Real Girl Belly Project; at least one young woman says it saved her life.
The mother of all these enterprises, as far as I know, is the Belly Project that Lisa Kushner of Belfast, Maine launched with photographer Peggy McKenna more than twenty years ago. The project flagrantly affirmed women's autonomy regarding reproductive rights. The finely textured belly portraits signaled women's authority to decide on pregnancy and childbirth. A poster displaying a group of the portraits sold nationwide; I can remember seeing one on the wall of a women's health clinic.
Photos from this Belly Project figured recently in the Living In These Bodies exhibit at the Waterfall Arts gallery in Belfast. As Lisa Kushner recalls, women were eager for Peggy McKenna to photograph their bellies: "People would pull up their shirts in the Shop 'n Save supermarket: 'Look, look, I can be in it!' It was the politics. Women were worried that their bodies would be taken out of their control."
Research suggests that weed-killers infiltrating our food supply through genetically-engineered wheat, corn, and soy crops are inflaming disorders including IBD, Crohn's disease, and colitis. The authors of one review find:
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup®, is the most popular herbicide used worldwide. The industry asserts it is minimally toxic to humans, but here we argue otherwise. Residues are found in the main foods of the Western diet, comprised primarily of sugar, corn, soy and wheat…. Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body…. Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
In the United States, the government does not require food processors to label whether their products contain genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) and the herbicides they deliver. Unless we grow or buy organic and non-GMO food, we may be poisoning ourselves and our children.
Reproduction, digestion: Just how much authority will we insist on maintaining with respect to the central, most intimate ways our bellies activate our vitality?
The magic is indeed in our bellies, our willingness to reveal and own the center of who we are.
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