On the eighth day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me
eight maids a-milking
The eight beatitudes, given to us in the Gospel of St. Matthew as gifts from Jesus Christ. In contrast to the external (and negatives) of the Ten Commandments (“thou shalt not . . .”) these eight are gentler and generally more upbeat (at least if you find yourself at the bottom of the social totem pole). A little rusty on your Gospels? No worries, here they are verbatim:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst
for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted
for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
-- Gospel of St. Matthew 5:3-10
Makes you feel good just reading it!
But back to the maids a milking. Tell me that’s not a pagan symbol of fecundity. Those ripe young lasses, that white milk a flowing, those motherly cows nourishing all those pink-faced little Christian cherubs . . .
But I also like that they’re having to work it! Milk and honey are not flowing without human exertion. We are no doubt grounded here on earth where such miracles are few and far between, so best to get down to it.
India reveres the cow as a sacred beast, and to this day cowsare treated better than most humans in that great land. Thus, if you have a peak at the classical yogic diet, you’ll see it’s heavy on dairy: milk, yogurt, ghee, paneer. Alas, our American cows do not get such gentle handling, and the dairy consortium calcium scam notwithstanding (turns out the calcium we need for our bones can’t be absorbed through dairy products), vegan is always an option. Might nose you a step or two closer to the beatitudes.
Other memorable 8s:
• The 8 Noble Truths of Buddhism
• “8 Days a Week,” by the Beatles
• figure 8 (infinity sign)
• The 8 ball