Earth is the most dense of the elements, solidifying our energetic ties to this corporeal experience we call “life”. Our mother, our home, our source of all sustenance, the earth is divine expression in physical manifestation. It’s no wonder we deify her and call her “mother”. In the very truest sense of the word, earth is our mother. We are dependent on her diversity of creation for our livelihood and existence.
Our connection to the element of earth reflects our connection to our own bodies. Through her we come to know ourselves experientially. This undeniable link ties the element of earth to the power of manifestation, the state of presence, the comfort of stability and foundation, and the experience of pleasure and sexuality. Earth nourishes and delights us, brings us comfort and medicine, shelters us securely from birth through death. It is through earth that we know abundance, health, beauty, and balance.
The ancient greeks personified both the place and element of earth in their primordial goddess, Gaia. She was known as the common ancestor of all living beings. In their cosmology, Gaia birthed her future lover, the sky, making her first among the gods, and second only to chaos which preceded her. This account differs wildly from our modern understanding of the Big Bang theory, in which the earth results from a cosmic blast, born of a universe which already existed. But it also hints at a far larger perspective than might be obvious at first glance. While Gaia may have been our home planet to the greeks, she was also indelibly connected to the primal life force which she personified, meaning she was more than her physical form and therefore an individuated part of the larger universal whole. That renders her not just an earth mother, but a cosmic mother as well.
The Incan earth mother, Pachamama, also gave birth to time. As the most important deity of the Incan people, the indigenous population of Peru, Pachamama was responsible for fertility, sowing and harvest, and could be seen in the revered mountains of their homeland. A benevolent goddess, her powers are self-sufficient and she acts independently in favor of maintaining the equilibrium of life on our planet. Literally, she is known to her people as “good mother”, and all that the Incans possess is believed to have come from her. To show their gratitude and respect, they share all that they have with her, making toasts and offerings to her on countless occasions.
In general, earth goddesses are most often subdivided into goddesses of fertility and agriculture. In these aspects, they may represent only one form of the element earth. A great example of this is the Native American Corn Mother, who has been attributed to many of the indigenous nations of North America. The Corn Mother is responsible for teaching the people how to grow, harvest, and utilize corn, a staple of the tribal North American diet. She is revered for her compassion toward humanity and is displayed in the corn itself, both the sheafs and kernels, silk and stalks. The Corn Mother represents abundance, well being, and the healing powers of the earth. In her many myths, she produces corn with her own body to feed the hungry, though her methods are discovered and considered unappetizing, resulting in her initial rejection. Ultimately, however, she is sought out for her wisdom, knowledge, and providence.
In our experience, the element earth is synonymous with mother and healer. Though frightening when angered, such as in the case of earthquakes, we typically see earth as a kind and approachable element, that which feeds and sustains us. As animals go, we humans are woefully underprepared for the game of survival. Our large brains and opposable thumbs must be enough to protect us in the absence of fur, fangs, claws, and other vital necessities. As such, we entered creation with a unique, symbiotic relationship to earth. Her rocks and stones became our tools and shelter, the claws and fangs we weren’t born with. Her furs and fibers clothed us, defending us against the other elements. And her other children, the plants and animals, both succor and support us in countless ways. In this sense, earth is perhaps our most immediate element, and the one we identify with the closest.
If you want to experience a one-of-a-kind encounter with Mother Earth, be sure and register for this weekend’s event: Bringing Enchantment into Every Day: Nurturing the Sacred Connection with Mother Earth with Selia Qynn and Dany Millikin. Held at the charming Habitat House, this six-hour event will include multiple talks, a pot luck, a tour, and a concert under the stars.