The approach of Mothers day is a beautiful opportunity to contemplate the history and importance of the concept of Mother Earth. Cultures from ancient history revered our earth as a maternal entity and held adoration for the feminine and the power of creation. This consciousness is returning as we negotiate our use of natural resources and remember our interdependence with our planet.
You do not need a new age spiritual proclivity to appreciate the similarities between our biological mothers and the earth.
- Our Earth nourishes us. Everything we eat or drink comes from Her.
- She holds us on the planet so we don’t swirl up into an endless universe.
- Bodies of water on the earth (called the watery womb of the mother in many indigenous cultures) have cycles of tides 13 times a year, in relation to the cycles of the moon. A woman also has 13 cycles a year for this reason.
- In this watery womb, single cells joined to become organisms and eventually animals and plants.
- When the Earth is healthy and provided for, it increases her ability to create and provide.
- She holds our history. We can drill down into an ice core and explore history millions of years ago, like examining a string of DNA.
- Everyone of us exists because of the numerous elements the earth has given and, like a dependent infant, we cannot exist without Her.
Gaia is the name that the Greeks used for Earth Mother. She is described as more of a power than a deity. Gaia was not born but appeared out of the chaos of the universe and subsequently created all that is. The following is a Homeric hymn to Gaia from the 7th century:
I will sing of well-founded Earth, mother of all, eldest of all beings. She feeds all creatures that are in the world, all that go upon the goodly land, and all that are in the paths of the seas, and all that fly: all these are fed of her store. Through you, O queen, men are blessed in their children and blessed in their harvests, and to you it belongs to give means of life to mortal men and to take it away.
Almost every culture had a place for reverence of the Earth as their maternal source and provider. Even before ancient Romans referred to the Earth as Terra Mater (Tellus) or the Hopi called Her Tuuwaqatsi, the agrarian cultures of our history honored and sometimes deified the Mother Earth. Their existence was intricately tied to the cycles of nature and they were acutely aware of their dependence on the Earth’s resources. Historical evidence suggests that during this time the Divine was referred to as a feminine force.
As history progressed, communities began to grow, claim land, war over land and obtain power through dominance and possessions. Survival became more connected to the act of humans than the gifts of the Earth. Industrialization and civilization continued to grow. Communities learned to store food and breed animals, giving them some independence from the cycles of nature. Judaism, Islam and Christianity followed with a supreme masculine deity. Man was in control, God was male and Divine was accessed from above not below. Any apparent adoration/worship of the feminine Earth was seen as heresy.
We all know that herbalists and midwives were condemned as witches in recent history due to their connection the Earth and supposed spiritual affiliation. However, the majority of the evolution away from the Earth honoring was much more gradual and subtle. Modernization leaped forward. Homes became temperature controlled, oranges grow in winter, and a child could eat steak once a week and have never seen a cow. Control over the Earth instead of cooperation with the Earth became the symbol of status and power.
As our resources dwindle and our weather becomes more tumultuous, we are again realizing our dependence on our Earth and regaining gratitude for what She provides. We have more religious tolerance and understand that loving our Earth does not conflict with any spiritual path. Consciousness of consumption and waste is finally dawning. Realization that we cannot survive without this planet in also finally dawning. Modern culture is starting to look at our Earth again, hopefully with some tenderness, gratitude and respect.
The new Earth honoring culture is emerging beautiful and diverse – from research for fossil fuel alternatives and creation of biodegradable substrates to avid biking, reclaiming rights of indigenous spiritual cultures, planting trees, spiritual awakening and bold legislation.
Bolivia is on the brink of passing a revolutionary set of rules that would grant nature equal rights to humans. The legislation is called The Law of Mother Earth. It includes: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered.
Andean culture has a resilient Earth honoring culture. Pachamama is the name for their Great Mother and resurgence in indigenous beliefs, along with the environmental challenges in Bolivia, have spurred this new legislation. Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera said when describing the measure, “Earth is the mother of all…the harmony [between man and nature] must be preserved as a guarantee of its regeneration.”
Remembering Mother Earth is returning to popular culture. Whether in an eco-conscious statement or line from Avatar, its becoming more than a new age slogan. It’s a meme for existence. Honoring the mother, the Mother, can stimulate a consciousness that heals both our planet and the beautiful beings that live here on it.