The Nature of Apocalypse

The Nature of Apocalypse April 5, 2023

During book club last weekend, the topic turned to apocalyptic stories, and I mentioned that I typically avoid apocalyptic media because I don’t care for those storylines, except for old TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Although those shows share the same universe, when the apocalypse is happening in Sunnydale it’s not reaching as far as L.A. Then I remembered a story from The Way of the Rose by Clark Strand and Perdita Finn and a deeper understanding the apocalypse emerged.

In The Way of the Rose, Clark shares about Juan Diego, an Aztec Native who had a vision of the Virgin on top of a hill known to the Aztecs as Tepeyac. This vision took place during the largest genocide in human history with over 20 million people dying. This genocide began when Columbus arrived in Hispaniola. The Virgin wanted a church built in the exact spot where she stood. The bishop twice refused Juan’s request to build a church there. On the third attempt, Juan brought a cloak full of roses to the bishop. When the roses spilled out on the floor, an imprint of the Virgin’s image was clearly visible on the inside of Juan’s cloak. This convinced the bishop, and the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City was built.

The Aztecs worshipped a goddess named Tonantzin (meaning “Mother Earth”) long before Christianity. Her temple was on the exact hill where the church was later built. In fact, about a decade prior to building this church, that same bishop took part in destroying and desecrating Aztec culture. It was the way of the religious invaders to destroy the soul as well as the culture and body. It was their way to inflict apocalypse on people and the land.

The Nature of the Apocalypse

What I realized about the apocalypse is that it’s not one large, definitive, worldwide event. There are consistent “small-scale” apocalypses happening all the time. We have been living with apocalypses and perpetuating apocalypses for ourselves, for our fellow creatures, and for the earth itself throughout history. Whole cultures, whole species, faced and are facing apocalypses. Polluted rivers threaten the existence of life. Forests are decimated. The soil has been stripped bare. Animals and insects murdered for nothing but the greed and small-minded agenda of people. All of this is apocalyptic.

We do this to each other and to ourselves.

Religion (specifically Christianity) has been a significant driving force in apocalyptic maneuvering, which I suppose makes sense. When it’s part of the religion to expect the world to end, and to believe that people are meant to dominate the earth, and to see themselves as above it and not of it, death-bearing behavior is a natural evolution of these convictions. There’s no denying the ugly, oppressive history of the Christian religion. Where colonization spread, so did death. This is a simplification of the history, but it’s true nonetheless. We know that survivors in many cultures maintained parts of their original faiths behind the mask of the conquering religion. But barely so.

One such mask would be the Virgin appearing to Juan. In his vision the Virgin promised Juan and his people protection, providing hope, though worse was yet to come. There are limits to humanity, but there are no limits to the life-giving power of the Mother. That she often appears pregnant when she manifests to people is a testament to the promise of life that she bears. I interpret this as Mother Earth eventually putting everything to rights again, and the indestructibility of the soul we were given by Her. The guise in which these ancient spirits choose to reveal themselves to us doesn’t matter. They are indestructible. No one can destroy the Divine Feminine.

Apocalypse Now

Every animal and plant that faces extinction right now does so because of humans. Extinction is an apocalypse to them. Those that were wiped out completely did not survive their apocalypses. People are still murdering each other for their faith, their skin color, their heritage, their land. Pollution still affects our rivers. People continue to ravage forests. Animals and insects and people and plants treated as commodities and resources, rather than living beings. Pesticides are a form of genocide.

We continue to create stories around apocalypses because of our own part in perpetuating these events in our real lives as a culture and society. Art reflects life, after all. I realized that I don’t want to indulge in contemporary apocalyptic media because that’s not the vision that I have for the earth or for humanity. It’s not what I would consider to be “life giving,” and the redemption within these stories is typically underwhelming to me. There’s enough ugly reality out there that I would prefer the media I indulge in to reflect what I value. Or at the very least, to be a real escape from what’s happening in the outside world.

Apocalyptic Values are At Odds with Mine

My life looks like planting pollinator friendly plants, feeding the soil, practicing kindness to all creatures, engaging in the healing arts, listening, and being as aware as I can be of the impact I have on those around me (human and non-human). The climate crisis is bigger than me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a responsibility to the ecosystem. The destruction of our planet and our people doesn’t interest me. I don’t want to imagine it. It’s happening in real life on various scales. I want to imagine a better world instead.

I’m a descendant of the Europeans. To me (and my ancestors) I have a responsibility to respect, honor, and uplift Native cultures because I am living on their land. I have a responsibility to my own indigenous ancestors (indigenous to Europe, that is) to remember their connection with the land pre-Christianity, and to honor that connection. I have a responsibility to recognize my privilege where I am and to wield it on behalf of the marginalized (human and other).

While you might think that my ancestors would have retained their colonizing ways after death, I’ve noticed that from the other side they have a real desire for amends. Those who would have been exceedingly religious and intolerant in life are not so in death. It makes me wonder what the Anima Mundi has shown them since they returned to Her.

One Last Note

This post isn’t a value judgment on your personal taste in media, readers. We all enjoy different things, and we all take different messages from the media with which we engage. Perspective matters. I am presenting one view, one connection, about the prevalence of apocalyptic stories and the very ugly and real human root of them within our history. What I do hope you take from this is a moment of reflection with regards to the way you show up in the world. We can be life-bearers. We have a great capacity to do good. What we do depends on what we value. As Madeleine L’Engle once wrote, “Like it or not, we either add to the darkness of indifference and out-and-out evil which surrounds us or we light a candle to see by.”

About the Author

Jessica Jascha is an herbalist, psychic, and writer in Minnesota. You can find her at jaschabotanicals.com or on Facebook

 

*featured image via pixabay

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