by Stefanie | 04.22.22
All civilizations have had some kind of mother figure that has been linked with nature and creation. The Ancient Greeks had Gaia, the Incas had PachaMana, the Hindus bestowed worship on Prithvi (“The Vast One”), and the Hopi Tribe honored Kokyangwuti (“The Spider Grandmother''). Each was considered the source of all life and was honored as such.
People honored these deities with prayers, festivals, sacrifices - anything they could think of to keep them in good graces. When the crops were abundant and natural disasters were mostly kept at bay, it was seen as a reward from Mother Earth for their acts of devotion and love. But in the years where nothing grew, earthquakes rocked the ground, or tornadoes destroyed the landscape, this was punishment for dishonoring the Earth. The Earth Mother giveth and the Earth Mother taketh away.
As time progressed and many cultures moved away from worshiping multiple deities, the idea of all life springing from one “Mother” became relegated to history books and hippie communes. Being considered an Earth Mother type became almost cartoonish; the stereotypical woman with long, flowy hair adorned with a crown of wildflowers and babies in her arms and attached to her breasts. She is seen as a symbol of fertility, a nurturer, and a giver of love and care. But who cares for her in return? It is impossible to give everything of yourself and not eventually run dry. We see it every day, in all aspects of life. We have taken so much from the Earth that she is no longer able to keep up with the demand. And we are expected to give so much of ourselves to our jobs, our families, and our friends, that we also are faltering under those expectations.
So how do we do it? How do we stop the bleeding and get back what we have lost? First of all, we have to start with honoring ourselves. Regardless of how each of us appeared in this world, we all add something unique and invaluable. Appreciate your individuality and think honestly about what you need to feel fulfilled. Learn to be good with the fact that what you need will likely not be the same as your sister or best friend. You are absolutely entitled to do what is best for you.
Next, let’s give ourselves permission to stop being so literal in our interpretations. Yes, an Earth Mother embodies the idea of fertility, but fertility does not only refer to bearing children (or produce). We can take the concepts that we root and grow in our minds and use them to populate the next generation of art, music, literature, etc. Creative fertility has no age restrictions or financial considerations; it doesn’t require a total change in lifestyle or a physical metamorphosis. The ability to create is something that is already present within each of us. Don’t be afraid to plant those seeds and tend to them in your own way. Some will grow and some won’t, and that’s ok. When we start to appreciate ourselves and recognize our worth, we renew our connection to the Earth and all of those who came before us. We allow the cycle of growth and rebirth of ideas to continue and flourish. In this way, we are all Mother Earth - no flower crowns required.