May 29, 2020
There is no word for “nature” in Lakota.
Our word for “humans,” Oyáte, is a universal
term that applies to nonhumans as well.
Earth Mother. Mother Nature.
We call her Mother. For she is the source of all life, including ours. She is the source of our food and everything in our lives from the clothes we wear, the homes we live in, and the cars we drive, to the computer I’m using to write this post. As the source and sustainer of all life, as the progenitor and ultimate manifestation of the sacred feminine, we name her Divine Mother. Our relationship with her is woven with reverence and gratitude, and we celebrate her with ceremony and song, art and iconography. We honor her with actions and attitudes of appreciation.
This is true for many of us. And it was once true for all of us. For there was a time when the Divine Feminine was known and honored in every culture around the world. But over time this has changed as mothers and motherhood, both human and within the natural world, became discounted and disparaged. It has changed through the domineering aggression of the patriarchy. It has changed through the religious belief that we humans have the right of subjugation and dominion over nature. Over Mother Nature. Over mother nature. And it has changed through the personification of naming her Mother.
Yes. Naming her fosters a deep personal relationship. Yet this personification also carries other consequences. This personification can also foster the perception of other, that she is separate from and outside of us. And this can, and has, lead to a place of enemy consciousness in which the other is something to defeat and control. This personification has also led to the attribution of intention and emotion. With the dramatic shifts of climate change, especially those changes that are uncomfortable, inconvenient, and disruptive to our way of life, she is often described as angry and engaged in some kind of retribution. In this time of the pandemic, many have said that she has sent us to our rooms. Well, she isn’t and she hasn’t.
In this personification, in this separation and othering, we lose the fundamental knowing of her as the force that animates all life. We lose knowing that there is no other, that we are all part of this one life force, this one universal web of life. All life. There is no separation. She isn’t outside of us, she is us and we are her. Oyáte.
This animating life force isn’t about retribution. It’s about restoration of the balance and harmony of the web. From the great Chief Sealth: Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web we do to ourselves.
And now, because of what we have done to the web, there is the energy of restoration, of reclaiming balance and harmony. Mother is adapting and changing. And as part of the web, we are called to do the same.
The quote by Nick Estes is from his interview in the May issue of Sun Magazine.
Judith – firstname.lastname@example.org