Monday, April 22, 2013

(Mother) Earth Day, 2013


During the golden age of archaeology, circa 1900 through 1930, many figurines of what appear to be an amply endowed and likely pregnant human female, were unearthed during archaeological excavations. One of the most famous of these figurines, the Venus of Willendorf, is believed to have been carved somewhere between 24,000 to 22,000 BCE. These estimates would place the creation of the Venus figurine in the Upper Paleolithic or late Stone Age. It is widely believed that these figurines represent a fertility or mother goddess.

These most ancient depictions of a mother goddess further suggest a more sophisticated and global view of the deity as a creator goddess or Earth Mother. This “Earth as Mother” motif is found in many mythologies around the planet. The goddess figure embodies or personifies a fertile earth. She is seen as the creative force, often giving birth to a myriad of other deities, or to universe itself.

Sumerian mythology depicts earth goddess Ki (cuneiform ki is the sign for earth) as the consort of Anu, a sky god. It is the incestuous Anu and Ki who give birth to the infamous Anunnaki, recently made popular by proponents of Ancient Astronaut Theory. The notion of a earth mother and a sky father conjures up vivid imagery for the likes of Erich von Däniken, et al.

Mut or Maut is the ancient Egyptian mother goddess. Mut was known as the “primal mother of all who was not born of any.” As a creator deity, Mut was revered as the mother from whom the cosmos emerged. She is associated with the waters from which everything was born through parthenogenesis, a form of asexual reproduction in which the development of embryos occur without fertilization… shades of the virgin birth mythos?

Egyptian deities evolved over time. As the old kingdom gave way to the middle kingdom, Mut was transformed into Hathor, and ultimately Isis. It should be noted that the Ancient Greeks identified Hathor with the goddess Aphrodite (foam-arisen) and the Romans as Venus. Both Aphrodite and Venus were considered goddesses of love, beauty, sex, fertility, prosperity and, through association to Rhea, Earth Mother.

Just as Aphrodite is portrayed as emerging from the sea upon a scallop shell, so is the ancient title for the Blessed Virgin Mary the Star (Polaris or the north star) of the Sea. With Mother Mary, the virgin birth motif is carried into Christian mythology. Although modern Christianity does not necessarily view Mother Mary as an Earth or Mother Goddess, early Christian sects, circa 300AD did.

Modern western culture has multiple representations of Earth Goddess. Most widespread is the Mother Nature motif. Another popular and more recent representation of Earth Goddess is Earth as Gaia. The ancient Greek earth goddess Gaia has in modern times become the name for Gaia Theory, where it is postulated that organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a self-regulating, complex system that contributes to maintaining the conditions for life on the planet.

An intriguing psychedelic and shamanic mythology for mother nature is personified in the south American Mother Ayahuasca motif. Mother Ayahuasca is a benevolent and loving entity encountered by shamans, both traditional (Ayahuasqueros) and neo (tourists), participating in ayauasca ceremony, where the hallucinogenic brew is ingested. Encounters with Mother Ayahuasca become more prevalent as North Americans seek the wisdom of South American Shamanism.

Perhaps our recently increasing encounter with “mother earth energies” is a timely synchronistic event. In our modern world of climate change and renewed pressures placed upon our precious natural resources, a deeper understanding of “goddess” or mother earth based philosophy is vitally important. Let us not forget that our shared Mother Earth is but a tiny speck in the vastness of space.

On this day where we celebrate “Earth Day” …let us remember the old sixties advertising slogan… “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!”