A Sumerian Birth Prayer

now comes the final voyage,
the journey without.
from the center of the world,
from the land of the not-yet-born,
from the midst of the mother,
the journey begins.

the boat is full,
packed with treasure:
lapis lazuli,
cedar wood.
greatest of all cargos,
full to stretching,
the child is ready.

I feel the ocean wind unfurl my sails
I stretch to heaven, stretch to earth,
my cries reach heaven, reach to earth,
I rise and fall like a roiling ocean,
I pitch and rock like a ship on the sea.

And in me the boat,
the processional boat,
the precious baby boat
continues its journey.

Open wide the great gate,
as the boat sails free to birth.
May the waters flow like rain,
may they flow like water from a pail,
may the boat find its mooring place
as it reaches the land of life.

(Note: The authenticity of this prayer has not been confirmed.)


About John Halstead

John is an climate activist and one of the co-founders of 350 Indiana-Calumet, part of 350.org, which is dedicated to building a global grassroots movement to raise awareness about human-driven climate change, to confront climate change denial, and to cut emissions of carbon dioxide in order to slow the rate of global warming. John has written for numerous online platforms, including The Huffington Post, Patheos, GodsandRadicals.org, Witches & Pagans, and GodisChange.org. John is an Editor-at-Large at HumanisticPaganism.com, a community blog for Naturalistic Pagans. He is also a contributor there and writes a regular column called “The Naturalistic Pagan Toolbox”. John edited and contributed to the anthology, "Godless Paganism: Voices of Non-Theistic Pagans" (2016), which gathered the writings of 40 atheistic, humanistic, and naturalistic Pagans, pantheists, animists, Gaians, and other non-theistic Pagans from around the English-speaking world. John was the principal facilitator of “A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment,” which can be found at ecopagan.com. The Statement has now collected over 9,000 signatures from over 80 countries, has been translated into 16 languages. It represents the most successful effort to date to harmonize the diverse voices of the Pagan community in defense of the Earth and the web of life. Since 2011, John has been writing about his often ambivalent relationship with Paganism, Unitarianism, and life, at AllergicPagan.com. John is also a Shaper of the fledgling Earthseed community, which is described at GodisChange.org. View all posts by John Halstead

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