Authentic Voice Project: F is for Fornication

For redefinition, I was thrown back to myself, to my inner knowing… Marilyn Sewell, Cries of the Spirit

The Authentic Voice Project: Week 6 (New Moon)

F is for Fornication

When I was six, I learned to pronounce it. At ten, I knew what it meant. And at eighteen it was burned into my chest.

In my last blog post I wrote that “Evil” is the most evil word I know. Well, “Fornication” can’t be too far behind. For me, the word weighed heavy throughout my teen years. It was the sin that was always on my mind because well, it was on my mind. Even thinking of it was supposedly a sin. That which is so natural to us as human-animals and is part of the regeneration of all life considered a sin! Unfortunately, condemning a sacred, spiritual, natural act as dirty really sullies its reputation overall, whether or not there’s a ring on its finger. Just look around at the way women and sex are denigrated in our society. And to convince young people that the natural needs of the body, with which they were born and over which they have no control, are filth tells them one thing: that they too are filth. Not so grand for the self-esteem.

“Fornication” is an ugly word, one of many words plundered and remolded as a weapon to keep us in line. Various Biblical sources tell us originates from the Latin word “fornicatio” which means arch or vault and is related to the Greek word “porneia,” to act the harlot (who stands under arches). Harlot: originally a description of a male vagabond, but since the 14th century, a prostitute or promiscuous woman ( Ugly words, ugly accusations. For a completely natural, beautifully human need. Like eating…

A fornix, was an earth-oven – arched or vaulted – for baking bread which were named for the Fornax, Goddess of the Furnace or Ovens. The Ladies of the Bread were the priestesses, standing under the arches of these Goddess temples in ancient Rome. Festivals, which included sacred sex to ensure good baking throughout the year, were called fornacalia, meaning oven-feasts. Baking bread, furnace, hot sex… bun in the oven. Yup, that’s where it came from. The Romans used to say, “the oven is the mother.”* The mother “bakes” the babe and the oven bakes the bread that feeds the babe.

Sex and sexuality and/or sensuality is a way to “feed” yourself and the one you love with affection and care. To share something that is healthy and vital to our physical, emotional, and spiritual balance. As life-giving – and natural – as baking bread to fill our loved ones’ bellies and souls.

* Sources: Reinventing Eve by Kim Chernin and Bell’s New Pantheon


4 thoughts on “Authentic Voice Project: F is for Fornication

  1. Wonderful post, Joanna! Adore your image of feeding affection and care to the one we love. For someone who came from sexual abuse, this is a beautiful thought to hold, and I appreciate you sharing such a healthy perspective.

  2. Love what you are doing with the words, it’s wonderful. Though if you don’t have it I urge you to get Barbara Walker’s Women’s Encyc. of Myths and Secrets and also Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects.” Har is defined as Ishtar, the patroness of temple prostitutes or harines. Sacred harlots occupied the part of the temple that came to be called Harem. Kings had to prove their virility, hence their right to rule, by impregnating the harines. From the root har came Hara, Hebrew for both holy mountain and pregnant belly.” The idea of the prostitute was one of sacred reverence wherein the priestess or temple prostitute actually legitimized the man/king and conferred his kingship upon him by the sexual union of heiros gamos…sacred marriage. It is only with patriarchy that these words became derogatory and filthy. Perhaps fornication is not ugly in and of itself but has been made ugly by the usurpation and demonization of it by the patriarchy. To me the vision of the harlot standing under the vaulted arch is a sacred beckoning to the unseen world of dark beauty….the lair, grotto, or womb. In fact the arch shape itself, the almond is the Sanskrit symbol for yoni or female genitalia. “They” changed it to a mandorla and placed Christ inside the holy “halo”. The irony is that he is right inside a vagina and it shows man can only be birthed from woman, the primordial essence. Let’s remember not to throw out the yoni with the patriarchy…hahahaha. Love what you’re doing!!!!!

    • I love all this info – I knew some of it but some is new, so thanks! Most “bad” words have sacred beginnings and to learn of them gives them new power and meaning.

  3. Ladies, That was wonderful. The explanations had me looking up Mandorla. Oh My. To take it one step further…The demonization of women once they were allowed to postpone the reproductive experience. Imagine, living in a world where we do have the power to decide if and only if and then when….. And for those of us who CHOSE never…well, I imagine you can see us standing under arches with that ‘come hither’ look.

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