I’ve spent the last month examining my practices and interactions with the Elements. It’s one of the core pieces of magic I teach in the Reclaiming Tradition. I revisit this work every so often as a teacher and as a student. In my last three articles I’ve chronicled my explorations with Air, my connections with Fire and my dive into Water. I’m turning now to the Earth.
Loving the Earth
Every moment of my life so far has been spent on the Earth. It’s entirely likely that my complete existence will be spent on this planet. With the exception of roughly five hundred people that have journeyed into space, every single person that has been born and lived a life and died, has spent each precious moment right here on ol’ Terra Firma.
There’s a common narrative among Pagan folk that the Earth is alive and that we are her children. I don’t think of the Earth as my Mother. The Earth isn’t a benevolent nurturer that cares deeply for me as a beloved offspring. I understand the metaphor, really I do, but it’s problematic for me. If the Earth is my mother, then I am her dependent. My only possible role is that of a selfish infant, unable to function, needing to feed constantly, depleting her resources without regard for her needs, barely noticing that she exists. No. I can no longer be a suckling babe.
I have come to regard the Earth as a lover whose body I know and adore and cherish and yearn to be joined in rapt ecstasy with morning, noon and night. I want to lose myself as I explore every inch of my lover’s body, understanding where we melt together and where we resist each other’s touch. As lovers, we will trust that there are places where we fill each other up and agree there are places we cannot be. And ever so importantly, my relationship with the Earth as lover must not begin with daily violations of consent and safe words and agreements. I would not rape my lover nor allow my lover to abuse me.
That sounds horrible, I know. I’ve re-written and re-read those last couple of sentences over and over again, but try as I might I can’t get the images of clear cut forests and oil-clogged beaches out of my mind. I cannot live in the fantasy realms of artwork showing horned gods and goddesses cavorting happily with bunnies and butterflies in pristine woodlands, knowing that the very landscapes that the artwork is based on are disappearing at an alarming rate.
You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone
I’ve been asking myself just how do I relate to the Earth? What profound insights have I gleaned after all these years as a witch. It’s terrifyingly simple.
I need the Earth to be my lover, but the Earth doesn’t need me at all. I can pollute, I can shred and cut and rip and tear at the flesh of my lover, but ultimately when there’s nothing left for me to ruin, the Earth will simply move on and leave me behind. The next lover will come along or no lover will come along and the Earth will be just fine with that. The Sun and the Earth will swap stories about that one lover, humankind was it’s name, that had such great potential but turned out to be just another crazy fucker by the end of the relationship.
Curbside recycling is a joke in most cities. It does virtually nothing to save the environment on any large scale, but it can be effective in removing up to 90% of landfill, which is something What can’t be recycled is incredibly toxic. Go figure, most waste management companies can’t make a profit with recycling and are pushing lawmakers to change rules that require curbside recycling.
Eating and sourcing products locally can cut down on transportation which in turn cuts down on pollution, but again, it’s small potatoes. Me buying food from the local farmer’s market is a start, but until grocery chains stop buying products made overseas and focus only on local products, not much will change. How do we, at least in the fairly affluent West, move away from mega stores that buy monoculture fruits and vegetables and overly produced dry goods?
Cob houses? I love the idea, but huge housing developments that generate millions of dollars are unlikely to start making cob houses for everyone. Green buildings and green architecture are are making inroads with solar power and living roofs. Great ideas for sure. How do we convince our legislatures, both local and national, to adopt these ideas on a really impactful level?
And the answer is, I don’t know. I know what *I* do to minimize my footprint but I don’t know how to organize local communities and local governments to do the same. Do you? That’s a serious question by the way. If you know, please comment!
My relationship to the Earth has changed.
If I want my children and my grandchildren and many generations of my kin to have a hospitable home planet (as if there is a wealth of non-home planets that we can just rent a space U-Haul truck and move to next weekend), then I need to treat the Earth as I would treat a lover; tenderly, softly, respectfully, with their pleasure and well-being first and only in my mind.
I can’t swan about the forest chanting “Earth I am” and expect much to change. I actually have to do something. I’m not quite sure what that is though.
In the meantime, I can imagine holding the earth like I would a lover. This vision of the Earth is part of my daily life and part of my daily practice. Earth. I honour you.