Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Embodied Prayer by Kay Turner


Art by Arna Baartz

Hands together. Eyes closed. Our Father, who art in Heaven….’

This is how I was taught to pray at Sunday School, and then at Primary School, where every assembly also ended with a pious repetition of the Lord’s Prayer. Rote recitation of the biblical words, in sing song intonation (actually, thinking about, we collectively narrated this prayer in the same rhythm and tone as our times tables!). Week after week we droned on, with the additional command, as we got older, to be absolutely still too.

I became numb to it all – the words, the meaning, the concept.

So, one day, as I neared the end of this age range, I decided to sway, during the prayer. The rhythm had become anchored into my body, and I wanted to move with it. Feel it. Play with it. I no longer had any cognition ‘online’ with regards to the sentiment of the words. At 10 years old I still didn’t really understand the trespass bit anyway. I just ‘knew’ I had to move the beat of our collective voices through my body.

So, I did. And this is how I began…

‘Our father’ – sway to the right
‘Who art in heaven’ – sway to the left
‘Hallowed be thy name’ – spiral

The spiral movement took hold and became the main theme for the rest of the process (although I really wanted to create a swooshing. fountain movement, raising my arms above my head, but even at the time thought this might be a bit too much).

It turned out it was all a bit too much. I was publicly shamed, immediately after the completion of the prayer, in front of the entire assembly hall, the whole school. I was chastised and told my movement was disrespectful and that I should know better at the age I was, etc, etc.

That was the day, as a child, I lost all contact with the Divine Feminine.

An excerpt from the upcoming Girl God Anthology Re-Membering with Goddess: Healing the Patriarchal Perpetuation of Trauma

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