The Pagan Experience: Earth – The word “earth” has multiple meanings. What does it mean to you? How do you use its definitions to support your work?
Look at just about any definition and you will see Paganism described as a “Earth-based” religion. Hand in hand with that is an idea that Pagans will or should be involved with a range of activist groups geared towards saving the Earth.
I don’t belong to any of them. Nor do I intend to.
With a few rare exceptions, when I hear someone shouting “We’ve got to do what we can to save the Earth!” what they are really meaning is “Save the humans!”
Momma Earth is a pretty powerful gal. She doesn’t need us to save Her. Over the past few hundred million years or so, She has survived meteor impacts, global warming and global cooling, and the rest. Of course, the creatures that live upon Her don’t always survive (just ask the dinosaurs). But through it all, through every change, the Earth survives.
It is my view that the Earth is not a passive ball of rock and water spinning through space, it is a living evolving entity. I won’t go into details here, but have a read about Gaia Theory. These theories first proposed by Professor James Lovelock made a lot of sense to me, and continue to ring true.
As above, so below. As within, so without.
When trying to conceive of the Earth as being a living entity, it helps to bring things in a bit closer to home. Make things a little bit smaller. There is another entity with billions of life forms living within and upon it, which does everything the Earth does, much on a much smaller scale. I am speaking of the Human Body.
A few years back Dr Bruce Lipton, a cellular biologist, wrote a fascinating book called The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter, & Miracles. Within this book, Lipton proposes the idea that ‘cells are miniature humans.’
I was prone to think of cells as human-like because, after years behind a microscope, I had become humbled by the complexity and power of what first appear to be anatomically simple, moving blobs in a Petri dish.
The human body is not a singular creation, it is in reality a busy bustling community of 50 trillion individual living cells, all working together. Usually harmoniously, but not always. However there is not a single function of a human body that is not also present within each individual cell.
Mother Earth is the same. Trillions of individual life forms (cells) working together to create a harmonious whole which is undoubtably more than the sum of its individual parts. No one cell/life form is more or less important than any other. Each has its role to play and its purpose in being.
There is a sort of hubris in thinking that as a human being I may be more significant or more important than any other life form. When in actuality, from Mama Earth’s point of view (I think) we are no more or less significant than all of the other life forms living upon Her.
When is the last time you gave much thought to the billions of single-celled organisms living upon your skin? Unless they happened to have gotten out of control or caused an infection (which can happen when they start trying to live where they’re not supposed to be) you probably don’t give them any thought at all.
Far from being the “bad” guys though, we are learning how important these cellular organisms are to our own health and well-being. Bacteria in our gut help to digest the foods we eat, and produce vitamin K which we need for our blood to clot. Bacteria on our skin keep other more harmful bacteria from moving in and causing infections. But those same bacteria in the wrong place can cause serious illness.
You won’t find me standing in line with protestors or activists. That’s not in my nature. I won’t be shouting on the steps of Parliament about how we need to do more to reduce pollution to save the Earth.
The Earth doesn’t need our help. Just like our bodies have the innate ability to bring itself back into a state of equilibrium, so too does the Earth. There might be a range of upheaval and tiems of imbalance while moving towards that equilibrium, but it will come. It took many thousands of years for the Earth to move back into balance after the meteor impact which wiped out most of the life forms on Earth at the end of the Age of Dinosaurs. But what is a few thousand years for an entity which has lived billions?
Now, some may think that because I don’t join in with the whole Save the Humans campaigns that this means I also don’t think we should be doing our part to reduce pollution, that we shouldn’t worry about the human impact on climate change, or that it doesn’t matter if we deplete the Earth’s rainforests.
Nope, not true. Because we are aware of what impact our existence has on Mother Earth, it behooves us to do our part to keep our tiny corner healthy. That’s right Mama Earth expects us to keep our rooms tidy.
Because I am no better and no worse, no more and no less, than any other living entity it becomes obvious to me that each and every over living entity is worthy of the same respect and honour I would show towards other human beings. Each is a necessary component of the living entity called Earth.
This blog post was written for The Pagan Experience 2015.