I think that nature or the natural world, or ‘mother earth’ or whatever you choose to call it, is also a violent, horrible, overwhelming place where our worst fears as human beings are located. Nature has an ugly underside to the incense breathing, chirping bird loving life bearing woman. It is a destructive place, a life taking place–a place where children are stolen from mothers much too early and whole groups of people are starved to death through the denial of rain.
The problem I have with a lot of the earth mother goddess types (trust me, I live in Ann Arbor–this is a *very* common belief here) is that 1. there is often a blatant refusal to admit to the brutal side of nature, or 2. if they do admit to it, that brutal side exists almost exclusively as a reactionary force against The Patriarchy. That is, men have fucked the world up with factories, pollution etc, and now the earth is gonna get them.
I think that it’s true that the Earth is getting ready to beat the holy shit out of us for all the shit we’ve done to it. But I think that the Earth had some pretty unsavory elements to her before we fucked everything to hell.
Since coming to Paganism I have been seduced by the virtues of many disparate pagan and Neo-Pagan beliefs. That of the loving and bountiful Mother Goddess, after a life of Jesus and his Dad, so removed from the natural world and our biological bodies, was especially appealing.
But as I grew older in my "faith" and began pondering the Earth as sacred I couldn't help noticing this other side to her as well. There is terrible hardship visited upon us children of the Earth in our lives upon it. That cannot be ignored. In fact, I think there is something profound in that. I've spent years now considering what that profound thought might be, and I have yet to adequately figure it out, but it seems like it is a truth of our existence. That the nature of life is hardship and joy. That our nature as thinking beings is the capacity to impart more hardship on each other, or to work together to create lasting joy for us all.
This has become a bit of a driving force behind my activism, such as it is at this time. It drives home to me the knowledge that, for better or for worse, we're in this shit together. That it is important for each of us to work with each other to make things better for all of us. Because, just as it is in the Earth and the Spirit/Energy which created us, it is within us to do create harm, to cause destruction for and to each other. I am reminded of this capacity often. I am, at the moment, reminded of it daily, as Israel and Palestine continue to duke it out for the scraps given them by more powerful Western countries. Though to be honest, I'm mostly reminded of it daily; there is always someone in the news working to make things better, and someone else murdering or stealing from their fellow humans.
I'm getting philosophical here at the end of the Western calendar year (it's an odd thing for me since Samhain is more of a new year to me but hey...). But I can't help thinking that if there is one thing I want my work to do, it is to show people just how we are all in this together. How the white single mother who just lost her job, the transgender woman praying her therapist will approve her surgery, the young man praying his insurance company will allow his life saving surgery, the migrant worker just hoping he'll make enough to be able to bring his family here, and the undocumented fearing she'll be deported; the gay couple fearing annulment of their marriage, the Palestinian and the Israeli, both fearing their friends and family may be dead in the morning; the black man being beaten by police and the cop killed while trying to protect a civilian, the soldier hoping to come home...and even the Republican who wishes San Francisco would be swallowed up by the Mother's oceans... For better or for worse, we're all in this together, and our lives to interact, even when we don't see it on the surface.
So happy new year to those who celebrate it now and I hope we can remember that simple fact better in the days to come.