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mum and Finn ready to go (with Finn totally oblivious)

Dad does his homily

in it goes...

a feast for the worms and veges

The 'placenta garden' freshly planted with corn, okra, radish and bok choi, plus the remnants of the silverbeet and spring onions.

09/Dec/2001 The placenta burial*

We are gathered here as a family, with the creatures of the earth who are waiting to receive the placenta.

The Yucatan 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 sexist.

Ritualising 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 wonderful.

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.

The Judeo-Christian tradition is of some help here, beginning with a creation story which calls humans the 'adamah', the earth creatures.

The earth, like the womb, is our origin
The earth, like the placenta, sustains us.

At funerals we remind ourselves that we are made of dust, and return to the dust.

By burying 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.

So Finn-

though you 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 fine.