medieval image of christ's chest laceration in the form of a vagina

How to Heal from Religious Wounding

Religious wounding metaphor - Vagina-shaped wound on Christ
After a rather personal share about my relationship with Jesus on Facebook last night, a sweet lady contacted me with the following question:

I’m sorry to bother you but I was really touched by your post about Jesus & I just wanted to ask if you perhaps have any tips on healing wounds from dealing with Christianity?

As I received this question rather late in the evening (and my brain usually shuts down around 5 PM), I realised that this wasn’t something I could just quickly scribble down in a text message, though I did have some answers in mind already. As it turns out, the subject matter is a rather timely one to blog about since many of us have had our own religious wounds re-opened in the wake of Doreengate. This includes countless people I have spoken to, including myself and the lady who asked this question.

I am attempting to answer this question, not as an expert but as someone who is also seeking healing. Many of my blog posts are born this way, as you will know if you have followed my work for a while. I’m just a fellow Seeker, offering my hand… and I’m not offended if you won’t take it. We all have different paths to walk.

I would like to start this exploration by talking a bit about the image above. It is a painting of the wound that pierced Christ’s heart and as you can see it is clearly in the shape of a vagina. Even in the Middle Ages, people intuitively knew that there has to be a balance between the Divine Masculine and th Divine Feminine in order for us to heal. With this image, I found the following quote:

Gothic manuscripts such as the Bonne of Luxembourg Psalter are not examples of aggressive fragmentation or unmerited fetishization. Instead the appropriated vagina is activated in its isolation. This demonstrates a performative use of the female anatomy to constitute a signifier in the location where women have been denied one. The gesture effectively links the creative powers of women and Christ—a hypothesis appealing to many female Gothic mystics.
~ Liz Lorenz

I don’t know about you, but personally, I found that just reading these words and contemplating the ancient image had an instantly healing and uplifting effect on my psyche. You see, the problem with the abuse perpetrated by religious leaders in the name of Christ is that it has nothing to do with Christ’s teachings and everything to do with the fact that those teachings were torn out of context and appropriated by Patriarchy.

I’m going to outline five healing steps below and I’m not doing this as a one size fits all linear process for others to walk through. Rather this is what I find helpful and maybe one or a couple of the steps are helpful to you too.

Step 1 – You’re not going to hell

First of all, take a deep breath if your religious wounding relates to a fear of hell… Ahhhhhh…. Relax and understand that the threat of hell and eternal damnation is something that has served patriarchy very well. Preaching about hell is how the Church and State worked together to keep sufficiently scared (like a flock of sheep) to be easily managed and manipulated.

My grandmother was raised in a Salvation Army orphanage where the children were starved, abused and used for child labour – all in the name of Jesus Christ. She was one of the most wonderful people I have ever come across but she would – for obvious reasons – have nothing to do with the church or any Christian teachings after that experience, which included watching many of her friends die from the abuse.

Just like the Kingdom of Heaven is within and can be within you right NOW if you so choose, so is hell. It’s not a literal place – It is choosing to subject others to abuse and torture. It is choosing fear over love and refusing to face your own shadow.

The Kingdom of Heaven is not bound to dogma or any religious doctrine. During my years on Earth, I have seen Heaven in the face of people on many Paths and I have seen the hatred of hell in religious fanatics as well as those who simply use religion as a power tool to manipulate people for monetary gain.

Step 2 – Pray to heal from religious wounding

Religion is about reconnecting with the Divine. The word comes from the Latin ‘re-‘ and ‘ligare’ which literally means ‘to reconnect.’ Everything about this word is so right and yet seems to have so little to do with what religion actually looks like out in the world, where it seems politics have taken over in pretty much every religious institution and denomination. Then we have the religious organisations that are clearly just motivated by money… It’s a sad state of affairs.

The good news is that you don’t need ‘religion’ to reconnect.

If you were to reconnect with the Divine today through prayer, you would instantly be in Heaven. You don’t need a middle man to tell you how or to let you know if you are doing it right. It’s your birthright to talk to Mother-Father God… or the Universe… or whatever name you feel comfortable with.

You have every right to pray, using your own words… and right now, if those words are words of pain because of how you have been treated in the name of Christ, those words are also OK. The Divine wants our hearts, our authentic selves. The Divine couldn’t care less about liturgy, correct Bible translations or priestly vestment.

Also, don’t forget to ask directly for help with healing your religious wounding.

Step 3 – Study

One of the things that really helped me free myself from the clutches of organised, judgmental religion was to study the canonization of Scripture. Once you do, you realise that the process was extremely political and very much geared to serve patriarchy in general and those with a lot of power and money in particular.

Or you could study the world religions to find the common thread which is the Golden Rule and the perennial truth that the Heaven is not a place but the love we hold in our hearts.

Or maybe study one of the mystical Paths more in-depth to keep diving deeper into the domain of true faith rather than trying to squeeze yourself into the dogma drawer.

Step 4 – Discernment

Once we leave the Church and religious dogma behind, it becomes even more important to focus on discernment because there is so much out there claiming to be spiritual truth that is just distraction and a money trap. Spirituality is big biz and you have some of the most unscrupulous publishing houses cashing in big on it as we learned recently.

Then there are the outright crazy people who claim that royalty are actually lizard people or that they have photographed their ‘crystalline lightbody’ when it’s a macro photo of skin with small droplets of sweat… And just when you think you have seen it all something else that makes you do a double face palm shows up in your social media feed. The scary part of that is the comments from all the countless people who instantly buy these claims as gospel truth.

Think, study and pray for the spiritual gift of discernment so that you can use your other gifts for the Highest Good rather than have your energy drained away by the prominent energy vampires in the modern spiritual community.

Be very aware that sometimes things ‘resonate’ because your mind is hooked into group think. This is why it is so important to schedule regular quiet time for prayer and contemplation.

Step 5 – Keep it simple

The final step is the most simple and therefore it is the one that the ego struggles the most with. The ego (bless its little cotton socks) adores complexity. Please understand that I’m not bashing the ego here. We totally need one to express our own unique individuality but the shadow of the ego is strong and often confuses ‘peace’ with boredom so it goes stirring. Meditation is – as always – the cure.

Everything you come across has one of two sources, love or fear. What you need to learn to do is to recognise the vibration of each so that you are not taken in by words. Many supposedly spiritual people abuse people in the name of love and light, in the way my grandmother was abused by the Swedish salvation army people, only more subtly and in the form of gaslighting.

You will recognise this in cults where nobody is allowed to disagree with the teacher, questions are deleted and people who use discernment are accused of being ‘negative.’ These people will claim that they are keeping their page clear of ‘negativity’ when really they are keeping it clear of discernment. They do this out of fear.

Love does not fear the darkness. It enters into the darkest corners of our psyche in the process of soul alchemy. Love is not always upbeat. Sometimes tough love is needed and sometimes we need to really face our own fear in order to fight for the oppressed on the side of love. Love is not about sticking your head in the sand and pretending everything is OK.

Love looks like that wound. That is why, after my own religious wounding, I still have this deep and abiding love for Christ who loved enough to lay down his own life. He is wounded with us. His religious wounding was dealt by the Pharisees of the time. Those Pharisees are still with us, just by a different name and they often carry Bibles…

 

Love,

Lisa

 

Comments 19

  1. Hi, Lisa. One thing that struck me is that some of us carry this twice. Many of us are wounded by our mainstream religion as a child. The RC Church made me a feminist at age 9 (in 1958) because I didn’t like how the nuns and priests were treated so differently. I didn’t even know about the Burning Times, or how often priests eat quite well while nuns barely get enough nutrition. Also, and more importantly, I wanted to be a priest. So, i left in heart and mind. In my mid-20s, I joined a group that morphed into a cult of sorts. There were aspects of cult, and I had to work really hard to overcome the damage that it did to me. One person I know wrote a book about how it was basically not a good idea to join groups at all, and while he had many good points, I don’t agree. Groups are human and will be imperfect, but some just seem to have firmer foundations. Thanks for this, your openness and generosity are so great.

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  2. What a beautiful, gentle blog post. I love your suggestions and have done several, although I couldn’t read the Bible for years. Only now can I read it a bit but only certain parts. Some more open-minded, modern-thinking Bible teachers have helped me to see things in a different light which has brought great healing – Rob Bell, Michael Hardin, The Deconstructions, The Liturgists (Science Mike and Michael Gungor). I joined a Facebook group called “Healing from Religious Trauma.” It’s such a safe place and the admin work very hard in keeping it a loving and supportive spot for people to share their hearts, concerns, pain and to ask questions. It was great to connect with others who had been through the same things and even worse. I don’t need to visit it so much anymore. I have healed quite a bit and am even going back to a loving church. I don’t agree with everything they preach or believe, but I’m able to stand strong in my own beliefs and not be swayed. (I admit though that I don’t feel free to share with my Christian friends that I read tarot cards.) The thing that draws me to Christianity is Jesus and his example of love. I don’t see that in any other faith although I love some of the ideas in Buddhism and follow them too.

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      Thanks Kathleen 🙂 I’m a Rob Bell fan. ‘Love Wins’ was a game changer for me. Thanks for the other names – will check them out. As a professional Tarot reader I have no way of ‘hiding’ what I do – nor would I wish to. Hence, rather than risk offending others or generate unnecessary drama, I decided to stay away from public worship and traditional Christian gatherings… <3

  3. This was a truly brilliant and beautiful post. So well thought out and helpful.

    It took me many years to realize that my religious wounding wasn’t from this life (I was raised in a fairly open-minded and tolerant religion – Lutheran) but from past lives. It was always the lightworkers, healers, mystics and wise women who were persecuted, burned at the stake, ostracized, etc. I’ve worked on releasing and healing this for quite a while but let some (usually well meaning) Christian ask me if I’ve been saved, and I *still* get a knee jerk angry reaction.

    Love,
    Donna

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    2. P. S. And on the subject of study… My studies did inform me that the term “salvation” would have been understood by Jesus and other Easterners as being saved from the cycle of death and rebirth (i.e. ascension or self-actualization) not saved from hell. That concept came into being centuries later.

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  4. Thank you for this refreshing outlook! Many look down at those of us who have left organized religion as horrible and evil people who turned from God. Why we left is often downplayed as unimportant or not looked into at all as well as the fact we are still spiritual people , who love God and not evil. I appreciate the helpful tips and best of all , the feeling of not being alone.

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  5. This is exactly the way I feel at the moment. Having a direct communication with ‘Divine source of all Creation’ as I like to call it, is so much more supportive and healing than all of the doctrines and catechisms I learned through the Catholic Church. My Mum and Dad followed the Catholic Church very strictly, so much so that my Mum, after having many children, two of whom were Spina-Bifida (with Hydrocephalus) and one had died at that point, was advised to go on the pill (this is in the 1960s of course). From the day she started taking it her skin turned bright red all over her body. It stopped when she stopped taking it. She felt she was sinning! Anyway, they continued being part of the church, and then much later my brother’s wife left him (she was having an affair). The local priest came to my parents and asked them to speak to my brother and his wife to try and keep them together in marriage. My parents said they didn’t feel it was their responsibility to do this (bearing in mind my Dad’s brother committed suicide in a similar situation and his parents told him he should just ‘go and get it sorted out’). The priest’s response was ” Well, the devil has won then.” and walked out. That effectively wiped out years of loyalty to the church – they were truly good people – had truly tried to live their lives through the tenets of the church. To tell them the devil had won was a blow they couldn’t recover from. My parents lapsed at that point, but my Mum really felt the loss of the ‘security’ of the church. My own personal feeling is that the ‘devil’ is in the patriarchal interpretation of the word of God. The bible is outdated and used to indoctrinate fear (as you say), and to manipulate people into a state of inadequacy and self loathing. This is not what Jesus would have wanted, the parable of the Good Samaritan clearly indicates that it is not so much the religion of someone that is important, but their ability to love other people, and to do good – and this is the way I am trying to live my life.

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      Wow, so much love and gratitude for you sharing this story and how it shaped your own understanding of the Church vs Christ’s true message. Very well said!

  6. Thank you Lisa for your thoughts on this subject. Even though I my experiences with the church have not hurt me, not that I can remember anyway, it never resonated with me that much. I’ve so wanted to believe and read the bible, I so wanted to find something to believe in, to belong to a community – but it just never did it for me. I know there are many wounds within me that need healing and the five steps you have given resonate with me deeply.

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      Thanks for sharing your experience, Claudia. I’m glad you found something worth to take with you from this article even though you didn’t receive lethal blows in a Church context <3

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