In India, there is a sweet way of getting to know a new acquaintance.
Instead of asking what you do for a living, which seems to be the most important question we ask in our society, you identify yourself according to the deity that you worship.
With that in mind, I had a big epiphany recently. I do love the gods and goddesses associated with the yoga tradition, and what they represent as archetypes in each of us. But, while on a shamanic journey the other day, I realized that I am first and foremost a worshiper of the earth herself.
We think that to worship earth is somehow lesser than to worship some powerful all-pervading aspect of a masculine god, who sits in the sky. It is hard not to believe in this, as we all carry hundreds of years of fear, mistrust, control issues and belief systems based on the earth and the feminine somehow being inferior. In some of the yogic scriptures we still get that impression when we learn that movement down into the earth is explained as adharma, or bad.
Truthfully, we fear her—the phenomenon of nature—because she is untamed and wild, immensely vast and incomprehensible, and she is bloody powerful. What we fear, we try to control and subjugate. And this is what we have tried and done, up to date.
A mother gives birth to both the female and the masculine, mothers of other species on earth constantly give birth to their children—masculine, feminine, and every combination thereof. We are all children of mother earth as she gives life and sustains us.
In the same way, I believe gods and goddesses of all traditions are simply aspects of her. It was easier to fragment the mystery, packaging the attributes neatly so we could try to control and manage her, rather than deal with her mysterious power directly.
But our task now is to love all of her, including ourselves as extensions of her—and the messy versions of lives we happen to have.
I am a devotee of earth, Gaia, as a goddess, a living ecosystem, a living entity, the mother of us all. Here is the challenge, though: When we commit to worship or devote ourselves to Gaia, we are asked to learn to love it all. And by that I mean everything. Not just the beautiful and graceful aspect of the feminine, but the decay and the worms, life and death, all of it.
Trudy, Jack Kornfield’s beloved partner, once spoke about a teaching she was given by her teacher. “You will get everything.” Of course at the time she thought that meant she would receive bliss, freedom, enlightenment, all the goodies promised on the spiritual path. Only later did she realize that the teacher actually meant it as he said it—she would get everything! Which means we have to learn how to accept it all, love it, and then deal with it, wisely.
In her infinite patience and compassion, Gaia gave us free reign to misbehave, to dishonor, to abuse, and to rape her. This attitude has brought us close to our own destruction. But we are the ones we have been waiting for. It is time to let go of “higher” and “lower,” “superior” and “inferior,” as there is no such thing. Everything has its place and dance in the web of life, and it is only our own blindness that misses how all of it is woven into life and consciousness.
She watches and waits for her children to remember, to honor her, and to worship life itself, to treasure and cherish it, in all of its myriad forms.
I feel like I am a part of those who have heard this call, and I am committed to be in service to her and all of her children in every way that I can.
I worship the earth, she is my ultimate deity.
Author: Katchie Ananda
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Flickr/Alice Popkorn