Red and Green, Resurrection and The Redemption of the Feminine
It's the time of year where red and green appear all over the check out lines, our TV screens, across our lawns and our neighbor's lawns. This Pagan come Christian traditional color-scheme that once held deep symbolic meaning is almost obnoxiously superfluous in our modern culture.
Long, Long ago, not all that far from here there was once a story about life and death. About Winter and Spring. About Red and Green. About redemption and forgiveness. That had nothing to do with Christ or prophets. That had nothing to do with a jolly old Saint Nick.
Once upon a time, the darkest day of the year marked the holiest moment of the year where life meets death.
And every year, by some miracle, life redeems itself from death as the light returns from darkness. On the 21st of December we will be entering into the void from which all life comes and to which all life goes. The cosmic miracle of life arising from death is far older than the Christian Resurrection story. And it is no coincidence that Christmas is celebrated at the same time of year as the darkest night. Overlapping holidays is a historically proven way to slowly convert one culture's religion into another's.
As many of you know, I recently moved to Ojai Ca where wildfires have been running rampant for the past two weeks. It has been a time of uncertainty, of darkness, and destruction. I am a grateful to report that my home and belongings are safe from the red flames of the wild fire. Many are not so fortunate. And my heart is with those who are suffering from loss at this time.
It was because of this fire that I found myself back in Encinitas, CA with family and friends and had the opportunity to attend church this last Sunday with my Cousin's husband.
It had been a while since I had attended a formal mass and I was immediately struck by the traditional red and green poinsettias adorning the perimeter of the tan chapel walls. The contrast so stark between these two complimentary colors; red and green. Indeed, a vivid cosmic message was coming through that was hard to ignore.
Red and Green.
The contrast so stark between these two complimentary colors; red and green. Indeed, a vivid cosmic message was coming through that was hard to ignore.
The pastor began to speak of forgiveness and punishment, an intro of thoughtful questions were raised regarding our ideas of right/wrong, punishment as a form of reflection and forgiveness as an ultimate act of love and redemption. Of resurrection. The heart of the story quickly became focused on the recent sexual assault allegations against men in power. The pastor raised questions around the severity of punishments given the severity of the allegations and how we are struggling to create new laws as we begin a slow process of righting old wrongs.
Old wrongs is an understatement.
If we are to look more seriously at the issue of the treatment of women through time.
We are talking OLD. Like, Ancient. More specifically, since the advent of agriculture around 10,000 years ago and VERY specifically at least around 2,000 years ago since J.C. came and went. And to be clear, It is not Jesus Christ who I take argument with here. Recently I have been delving into the scriptures and writings of the Bible and I feel very much aligned with what it appears he himself had to say on the subject of love, forgiveness, and equality.
What I take issue with is the hard truth that for more than 2,000 years organized religion has pitted women as lesser than men. We have been framed as the source of all sin. In essence, women have been made out to be "unredeemable," or "unforgivable" by our very nature, by our very God, by our very Church.
This hierarchical imposition is what lead to the normalization of the abuse of women resulting in traumas that are in many cases unspeakable in nature, spanning both depth of injury and length of time through history.
So imbeded in our culture has this subconscious story line become that the #metoo movement comes as no surprise to one gender and as a great awakening to the other.
The hard truth is that organized religion's definition of women as inherently sinful has left us categorically excluded from the Christian idea of forgiveness. We have been made an exception to the tenant that despite committing sins, forgiveness is always possible.
Committing a sin and BEING sinful are two different things.
The redemption of sin is the promise at the heart of Christian ideology made possible by the resurrection through which Jesus Christ sacrificed his life to redeem our sins.
And yet, If we are brave enough to trace back the concept of redemption and resurrection even farther than Christian ideology, back to biology we find ourselves in the womb/tomb of the great goddess herself. Where the ultimate act of redemption lies, where all life comes from and to which all life returns. The female body is the physical throne room of death begetting life, of renewal, of resurrection, of redemption and ultimately of forgiveness.
And yet, according to organized religion, the humans who physically wield this miraculous and holy power within their bodies have been framed as the ones who are unforgivable. Who are sinful.
Red and Green. red and green.
Once upon a time Red was blood. The life force, the fire, the liminal color between death and life. After all, blood can be spilled out of our veins and our wombs resulting in death, miscarriage, a menstrual cycle gone by with no seed sown. Death.
But blood can also be the vital flowing river where life is born. The Red blood the source of nutrients for the embryo to embed itself into the womb. Once upon a time the Green Christmas tree was not just a tree but THE Tree of Life. A long, long time ago Green was the color of new life, a symbol of re-birth. The color of resurrection, the color of redemption. The color of forgiveness. Green is the promise of hope.
Green is the color the hills will turn after the fires pass in Ojai, after the first rain comes. Fire is, after all, a red flowing force that destroys as much as it creates. There is as much potential for death as there is for life in its flames. It is fire after all that bring us together.
It is fire that it is also a great Uniter. It is Fire that lives at the center of every home. Blessing our kitchens, warming our bellies with food alchemized into nourishing meals by its powerful flames.
It is fire that we gather around to sing songs, tell tales, an simply be together.
It is fire in my hands that allows me to connect with you over the internet. We sit here warming our souls in front of glowing screens, as our ancestors must have warmed themselves by a fire at the end of each day in their villages.
Fire is the heat of connection between friends, family and lovers.
Fire is the ultimate source of energy.
Some might say it is Love itself.
Perhaps it is time to remember what we have almost forgotten.
That it is all things red and messy that carry within them the possibility of redemption. Perhaps it is time to remember that the miracle of life and death are inseparable and holy. May we remember that it is the women who physically embody this holy law and are the ones who have suffered greatly and unjustly for it.
While I believe deeply in forgiveness, I also believe in not forgetting. And it seems we are just in the beginning stages of re-membering-- to see the truth--that while men are rightly hurting now too, and a good many will be unfairly accused or over sentenced, it is women who have been outright rejected as unforgivable in our very existence with no chance of redemption. No way to be welcomed back. No amount of time served, no punishment great enough to redeem the "sin" of being female. Until Now. As the truth emerges.
This is what I will be taking into my heart, into account at this moment in history and this moment in the year. To sit with the grief and rage in the hearts of women across the globe as men are just beginning to face what it might feel like to be dis-membered from society, dis-credited not just for one lifetime, but for thousands of years. This is not out of a desire for revenge by any means. It is out of a desire for true understanding to take root in the hearts of all people. For grief to be given its time and space. For the blood to flow, for death to be properly honored so that life can take root. For the destruction to be honored as much as new life.
Redemption and forgiveness are only possible if we first acknowledge our losses.
I would love to hear from you in the comments below. What are your thoughts? Your insights into the mysteries of life and death, of resurrection and Christmas? Im still learning and would love your guidance.