“But flesh; with its soul its blood you shall not eat. However, your blood which belongs to your souls I will demand, of every beast will I demand it; but of man, of every man for that of his brother I will demand the soul of man.” Gen. 9:4-5
“…for it is the blood that makes atonement because of the life.” Lev. 17:11
As a woman, blood feels like it’s largely our jurisdiction. We often bleed when we are newborns, a mystery in itself. We bleed when we reach womanhood and regularly all throughout our fertile years (i.e. the majority of our lives). We bleed when we give birth. When bleed when we heal from birth…
Blood. The life of flesh. The symbol of womanhood. Sacred on so many levels both scripturally and within nature.
I was listening to Indie Birth’s Taking Back Birth episode called “Burying My Placenta with My Soul Sister” (listen to it here) and in it, the host and her dear friend talk about the experience of burying their placentas together and all the significance it brought to mind. At one point, one of them makes a point that “the earth needs [blood]” and she recounts how a ritual of pouring menstrual blood at the base of a nearly dead tree had brought it back to the point of thriving. This made me think of the verses I wrote above, and of things I’ve said in both Discovering Femininity videos "Bereshit" and "Noach". She points out that the way most people live these days, we don’t give blood back to the earth.
This made me think of how we regard — on a greater social scale — feminine blood (menstrual, birth, etc.), death, and how we eat meat. Before everything was industrialized and synthesized, we had a much closer connection to blood. We, women, bled out every month. We handled our bloody cloths and washed them, also with our hands, and eventually rinsed the blood back into the earth. When anything would die, we would bury it or burn it or lift it to the sky— no matter what ceremony was performed, the flesh of the dead would be returned to the earth one way or another. To eat meat or offer sacrifices, we would slaughter or witness the slaughter of animals we raised ourselves. Blood would spill to the ground and probably also on us. Close contact, often with sacred contexts. How could we miss it with life lived that way?
But now…we seem to be disconnected. We freeze our cycles with interventive devices, or we use every possible tool to keep our hands clean and blood off of our bodies during menstruation. The moment a body becomes a corpse, we bag it up and whisk it away to be dealt with in a cold sterile environment with cold sterile hands to be placed in a cold sterile box that never decays. The meat we buy from a store, shrink wrapped and pristine, is processed along with probably hundreds of other meats of its kind after being unceremoniously marched down an echoing metal catwalk to be killed. The blood of this animal travels through special plumbing to be disposed of somewhere far off and out of sight.
What if we’ve been depriving the earth of its lifeblood? What if creation was intended to cycle along with us, death and life and death and life? Blood atones because it belongs to the earth because it belongs to God…
We are all connected as long as we are all connected.