Earth and Spirituality
For many people, spirituality and ecology may be separate disciplines, spirituality being the realm of clergy and ecology the realm of scientists. But we are living in a time of both ecological and spiritual crisis, one in which we are loosing species at unprecedented rates and in which masses of people are desperately seeking some spiritual direction in life. It is possible that the only way to restore wholeness may be to rediscover the vital connection between the two crises: a spirituality centered in Creation.
Spirituality is a part of human existence which people have recognized as far back as we are able to discern, and yet it is a concept not easily ...view middle of the document...
But it is something we have to rediscover in this society which has become anthropocentric, mechanized, and nonmystical. It is the spiritual heritage of most indigenous peoples for whom cosmology was, and in cases still is, the basis of worship, prayer, economics, politics, and morality. Their world view is one in which the divine is expected to be manifested anywhere and at any time. The oldest tradition in the Bible is creation-centered as well, particularly revealed by the Yahwist author in the Hebrew Bible, in most of the books of the prophets, and in the wisdom literature (Fox, 1991). It is the tradition into which Jesus was born and therefore also that of early Christianity. And there have been other brief high points in history for a more earth or cosmos-based spirituality. The Renaissance of the 12th century was one of these with its mystic prophets Hildegard of Bingen, Francis of Assisi and Thomas Aquinas. Mechtild of Magdeburg and Meister Eckhart were among the mystics of the 13th and 15th centuries. But Eckhart’s condemnation in 1329, marks the beginnings of rejection of the cosmology of the ages before, of our spiritual connections to all that exists (Fox, 1991).
For at least the first 200,000 years of human life, the wonder of the female capacity to produce and sustain life was central to religion. The religion of ancient times was much more female oriented that historians have allowed us to believe. Cave drawings from the Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon periods are rife with images of what appear to be female deities giving birth to the universe. From the Upper Paleolithic period, a bas-relief (circa 19,000 B.C.) from a cave in the Dordogne Valley in France depicts the Great Mother with a bison horn in hand and painted in red ochre, the color of blood and life. The male role in producing life was not realized or acknowledged. Rather the female and the spirit communed to give birth and create. Preserved footprints speak of circle dances which may have celebrated life and cycles, communion and community.
Seasonal cycles and birth and death were also central to ancient religion. It was believed that the dead returned to Earth for rebirth so they were buried in the fetal position, ready to be born again. A female Earth was the source of life and the central religious symbol. In the very oldest creation myths, a female god creates the world from her own body, and belief is in a Goddess responsible for both the good and the pain in life. So the first God for humans was Mother Earth. In fact, the later Biblical idea of a male God forming humans from clay was taken from earlier Sumerian and Babylonian creation stories of a potter Goddess.
This early female religion was organic: a union of body and spirit, of "daily tasks and cosmic meaning" (Sjoo and Mor, 1987). Its body symbolism expressed a poetic and non-dualistic mentality in which the cosmos was a body and the body a cosmos. Early women knew no dualisms and it is suspected had no...