Sunday, July 8, 2012


“Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the earth is our mother? What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth.
This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself."2
   Attributed to Chief Seattle

The Earth and Nature teach us how to be embodied in this world. We must become aware of the living Being, its energies and its laws, upon which we live our life, We have to awaken to our senses, feel what our body is saying to us and get back in touch with our natural instincts.  Wearing ‘the mantle of furs’ means coming to our senses, living in our bodies consciously, and honoring the Spirit in Nature.

The Sovereignty of the Earth
            When women step away from the Father’s House and don our mantle of furs, we often feel like Dame Ragnell.  As we undergo this most crucial transformation of consciousness, people ask us, “What’s happened to you?  I don’t understand you anymore?”  We feel the same way.  But we know that something ‘most beautiful’ lies beneath this furry skin.  We know it, but it is also important that someone else recognizes our beauty, hidden behind the enchantment of a patriarchal curse.   For many thousands of years, women have been denied this sovereignty and until all women everywhere have the right and capability to make their own choices in life, women will never be truly free.  When feminine wisdom is not honored, we lose the precious counter-balance that alone enlivens masculine knowledge and power.  And so we all lose our freedom.
            Feminine sovereignty is grounded in the perception that women and the Earth have a lot in common.  In ancient times when people honored the Earth for sustaining their lives, they also honored women, who were the source of new life. This is why the problem of sovereignty is an issue for women as well as the Earth.  And this is why both issues need to be addressed.  Allerleirauh is not just reclaiming her connection to her own body by wearing the mantle of furs.  She is trying to solve the collective problem that her parents left to solve: what will be the new relationship her kingdom has with the Earth?
            All cultures develop a relationship to the Earth, their home.  Our modern relationship has been to take what we need regardless of the consequences.  But we are seeing that we have to change, and we don’t yet have a clear vision of where we are headed beyond the fact that we have to be better stewards of the Earth.  The ancient Celts honored the Earth as their Mother, and they understood the archetypal figure of Lady Sovereignty, who embodies the power of the Earth.  Sir Gawain’s story from the Middle Ages indicates how important the problem of their relationship to the Earth was for them.  For the Celts, Mother Earth was a shape-shifter.  She could appear as the most ugly hag mankind had ever seen: face red, nose snotted withal, mouth wide, teeth yellow and hanging down over the lip, a long thick neck, and hanging heavy paps.   Or she could appear as the most beautiful maiden.  Both these aspects were hers to be understood and loved. 
In the Irish story of the Sons of King Daire3, the Sovereignty of Ireland says to Niall, her chosen king, ‘As thou hast seen me loathsome, bestial, horrible at first and beautiful at last, so is the Sovereignty; for seldom it is gained without battles and conflicts; but at last to everyone it is beautiful and goodly.’  Sovereignty is worth fighting for – both for the Earth and for women.  But women can’t just stop at demanding our lawful equal rights. Sovereignty demands equal rights for women’s wisdom and vision.  This means that each woman is responsible for reclaiming her personal freedom, for sovereignty demands the search for our unique identity and purpose.  And for that, we have to rediscover women’s ancient wisdom - the wisdom of the Earth.

The Wisdom of the Earth
The Earth has been communicating with us all along about the problems our consumer lifestyle causes her. But we haven’t been listening.  Or else, we listened and chose to ignore her call.   But we are finally acknowledging the scientific evidence of climate change as well as experiencing its devastating effects in the change and intensity of world-wide weather patterns.  This change is forcing us to reconsider our relationship to the Earth. 
Connecting to the Earth entails more than keeping our carbon emissions low and recycling, although these are ways we try to clean up the pollution generated by our modern life-style.   Connecting to the Earth isn’t just going for a hike in the mountains or swimming in the ocean, although these are times when we can commune with nature.  Connecting to the Earth demands that we become conscious of our bodies, our own private bit of Earth.  Connecting to the Earth begins when we can feel reverence for our land, our air, our waters, when we can ‘love our neighbors (and the Earth) as ourselves’.
Connecting to the Earth begins when we re-examine our beliefs about our place in Earth’s ecosystem.  Can we use the Earth’s resources however we want without consequences?   Or are humans just as much a part of Earth’s ecology as wind and fire and water?  We need to discover what our relationship to the Earth is.  Are we the stewards of the Earth or perhaps Earth’s consciousness itself?  Unless we discover our place in the Earth’s living biosphere, we won’t know how to honor the Earth.            
Before humanity looked to the heavens for their gods, we looked to Mother Earth as the supreme Goddess of life.   We were Earth’s children, just as the animals, land, plants and waters were hers.  As we face the results of our own misuse and abuse of the Earth, we have to admit we haven’t treated our mother very well.  Who among us would rape, degrade and pillage a beloved mother and nurturer in this way?  And yet we do, because our forefathers told us that the Earth was dead matter and we were special, meant to rule the Earth, not care for it.   And so we kill off species without a thought.   Unfortunately, as we kill the animals, we are killing ourselves.

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