My Body's Temple: Many people have been drawn to Paganism because it affirms the sacredness of their bodies, their sexuality, and their gender expression. The mystique and glamour of witchcraft is what attracted many wannabe Wiccans to the magical stage. To be a witch, and acquire all the pretty accoutrements - sexy witch outfit, black cat, pentagrams everywhere… even the hipsters have cottoned on to kraft kool. No longer do we have to suffer with the hag with warts stereotype when we have sexy ladies like Fiona Horne gracing the spotlight with a brand of white witchcraft that can come across as inconsistent at times, but always glamorous.
As we learn more about the craft, of course we realize that there is far more to it than that. It is a path of self-acceptance, but what does this actually mean? We know that robes and ritual jewelry have a place in craft practice. Some seem to enforce that a natural ‘as the Goddess intended’ ascetic lifestyle of no makeup and nudity in circle, arguing that adornments can impact magical practice. Others feel that their clothing, tattoos, piercings, eyeliner etc, has personal spiritual significance, and this is reflected in historical cultural Paganism where ritual body modification was often used - the ancient Egyptians and their use of kohl and perfumes is one example.
The oldest, the most profound, the most universal of all symbols is the human body. The Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, and Hindus considered a philosophical analysis of man's triune nature to be an indispensable part of ethical and religious training. The mysteries of every nation taught that the laws, elements, and powers of the universe were epitomized in the human constitution; that everything which existed outside of man had its analogue within man.
The early priests placed the statue of a human in the sanctuary of the temple. This human figure symbolized the Divine Power in all its intricate manifestations. Thus the priests of antiquity accepted man as their textbook, and through the study of him learned to understand the greater and more abstruse mysteries of the celestial scheme of which they were a part. It was that this mysterious figure standing over the primitive altars was made in the nature of a manikin and was covered with either carved or painted hieroglyphs.
Using man's body as the measuring rule of the universe, the philosophers declared that all things resemble in constitution - if not in form - the human body. The Greeks, for example, declared Delphi to be the navel of the earth, for the physical planet was looked upon as a gigantic human being twisted into the form of a ball. In contradistinction to the belief of Christendom that the earth is an inanimate thing, the Pagans considered not only the earth but also all the sidereal bodies as individual creatures possessing individual intelligences. They even went so far as to view the various kingdoms of Nature as individual entities. The animal kingdom, for example, was looked upon as one being - a composite of all the creatures composing that kingdom.
From the time of the days of the Roman Empire to the present day, people have indulged themselves in excesses in order to appease their physical appetites. People started seeing the body as a burden, ascetics throughout the ages have sought to bring the body under subjection to the spirit by physically abusing it using various means such as extreme fasting, self-flagellation, sleeping on wooden boards, and wearing rough apparel. As people seek further bodily pleasures and an escape from reality, drug abuse has escalated to epidemic proportions with all of its attendant personal and social problems.
In the last few years, as we have been alerted to the health risks of our sedentary lifestyle, more people have begun a regular exercise regimen. Some carry this to extreme levels and spend vast amounts of time in exercise, attempting to produce a beautifully toned body. Hence the sculpted body prompts the owner to display it as a status symbol for others to admire.
Many people do not understand the sacred nature of their bodies. To understand the sacredness of our bodies as temples, it is useful to compare the temple building with the temple body. When the Kirtland Saints built the temple, it was constructed with high-quality materials. The sisters donated their china, which was ground and put into the exterior stucco finish to make the walls sparkle and look beautiful. The exterior of the temple building was beautiful, and the grounds were immaculately kept.
Similarly, we should use the best materials to build our bodies. We should also be involved in appropriate physical exercise to maintain our health and keep our bodies functioning so that we can feel invigorated and able to fulfill our mission here on earth. When we do not eat well or exercise regularly, we feel lethargic and our spirit has to deal with a dulled body, which can result in a dulling of our spirit, thus hampering our effectiveness.
I do believe my body is a temple. I’m not a particular fan of reincarnation so I plan on living a long time and getting the most out of my body. I try to eat healthily and exercise. I minimize the amount of junk I eat, including meat. I trim away my split ends and I don’t use hot tools or too much product on my hair. Often, I put on a bit of makeup for some rituals and sometimes I wear none at all.
Remember, consider your discipline as a down-payment on a healthy and active life down the line as well as in this moment.