mum and Finn
ready to go (with Finn totally oblivious)
Dad does his
in it goes...
a feast for
the worms and veges
garden' freshly planted with corn, okra, radish and bok choi, plus the
remnants of the silverbeet and spring onions.
The placenta burial*
We are gathered
here as a family, with the creatures of the earth who are waiting to receive
of Mexico call the placenta "el companero", the companion.
Lots of cultures deal with placentas after the birth in ritual ways, though
their reasons look to me, a modern westerner, to be superstitious and
the disposal of the placenta hasn't been a part of the western Judeo-Christian
culture, perhaps because of the Jewish fixation with cleanliness, and
the association of birth, menstruation and blood with the "unclean."
Despite what Jesus said about cleanliness, most churches have followed
the Jewish lead. In recent times birth has been reclaimed as clean and
Now it is time
to claim some meaning for the disposal of the placenta. And we do this
at a time when we desperately need to remind ourselves of our connection
to all life.
tradition is of some help here, beginning with a creation story which
calls humans the 'adamah', the earth creatures.
like the womb, is our origin
The earth, like the placenta, sustains us.
we remind ourselves that we are made of dust, and return to the dust.
the placenta, the birth companion, and honouring it rather than handing
it over to cosmetic companies as is common practice in Australia, we remind
Finn, and everyone, of our intimate link with the earth and with all creatures
who come form it and return to it.
don't yet understand it, we're here to bury your birth companion.
Once it linked
you to Toni, your sustainer,
Now it links
you to the earth which sustains us all, even as it sustains the vegetables
on which we will soon feed.
Once it allowed
your intimate relationship with one life,
Now it speaks
of your intimate relationship with all life.
May the earth
provide all the nutrients, faith, hope and love you need to live as a
Homo sapien who knows where he came from and lives accordingly.
* This text
is an expanded version of the mini-homily I said at the burial of Finn's
placenta. It was written for us, a family with one person who believes
Jesus was the image of the invisible God, one who isn't convinced, and
one who hasn't even thought about it yet.
Feel free to
use it, chopped up as much as you want. If it is any help to others in
reminding them of their links to the earth on which we tread then I'll
be happy. If you do a placenta burial liturgy I'd love to hear about it
for my PhD.
If we had been
more organised we would have invited friends and family around too.
Bit of trivia-
we had the placenta in the fridge for 13 days before burial and it was