The Concept of ‘Mother Nature’ {Sacred, Spiritual Nature}

Several writers have taken the exploration of the spirituality – Earth relationship further back to Paleolithic and Neolithic periods. In The Chalice and the Blade, cultural historian Riane Eisler weaves evidence from art, archaeology, history, religion, and social science {from data she had back in 1987 when she wrote her book}. Her research shows people living for long periods in harmony with each other and the environment.

It was not until after World War II, Eisler says, that archaeology as a system of inquiry into the life, thoughts, technology, and social organization of our forebears truly began to come into its own. We now know that the first signs of the agricultural revolution began to appear as far back as 10,000 years ago – or more. With a more dependable food supply, populations increased and towns grew. As agriculture freed some human energy and imagination, crafts such as pottery, weaving, wood, stone carvings, and painting flourished.

Artifacts from these types of excavations reveal “a rich array of symbols from nature,” indicating that early peoples believed the “same source from which human life springs” was also “the source of all vegetable and animal life.” As such, “our early ancestors recognized that we and our natural environment are integrally linked parts of the great mystery of life and death and that all of nature must, therefore, be treated with respect.”

Among these various artifacts, we find depictions of “the goddess” in one form or another. In fact, archaeological egalitarian society, with no marked distinction based on either class or sex. Eisler references the work of archaeological pioneer Marija Gimbutas, best known for her work in Neolithic and Bronze Age cultures who posited that prehistoric culture was largely female – centric. Eisler writes, Gimbutas “had the courage to stress what so many others prefer to ignore; that in those societies we see no signs of the sexual inequality we’ve all been taught is ‘human nature.'”

The many images of the goddess, Eisler expands, seem to express a view of the world in which the primary focus was cultivation rather than pillaging. These works of art expressed an interest in imbuing life with a spiritual purpose – and working with the earth to provide enough for a satisfying life.

The discovery of artifacts from the ancient ruins of Minoan Crete, a technologically advanced and socially complex culture, was “something of a bombshell,” Eisler writes. Scholars such as German Classicist Eduard Gerhard had posited in 1948 that certain sections of ancient Greece had worshipped a single female deity – a goddess he associated, as did many other classicists of the time, with the concept of a Mother Earth. Archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans disputed this idea – that is until 1901 when he excavated Knossos on Crete, the site of Minoan civilization. After discovering a number of female figurines, he came to the conclusion that this culture had, in fact, worshipped a single, chief female deity {who had a son that served by her side} who represented nature.

In general, women in early cultures were usually the gatherers of useful plants. As authors Monica Sjoo and Barbara Mor describe in their book The Great Cosmic Mother, “Plant-gathering women would be involved in highly detailed tabulations of various plants and herbal properties – what is edible, what is poison, what is medicinal, what is hallucinogenic – and in transferring this information on to others; over generations an incredibly complex and replete botanic and pharmacopoeia catalog would be filed in each female mind.” Thus, an important part of women’s early language would have included a detailed observation and classification of their surrounding plant and mineral environment – “an experimental classification that was the origin of science.” These authors also make note that “women’s lunar-markings on painted pebbles and carved sticks” served as the first time measurements, the first calendars.

Today we may refer to Mother Nature as a casual comment, but the term’s origins go back thousands of years ago.

So that’s where my search for understanding of why many of us feel a sense of well-being and wholeness from immersion in nature as led me. Personally, when I feel more balanced and peaceful from being on my knees in the garden or from the woods walking, I believe I’m tapping into that energy of Gaia, Goddess of Earth. But nature speaks to us in mysterious ways. If you listen carefully and meaningfully, it speaks louder than the din of modern culture. To put it another way, there seems to be something innate in humans that feel a connection to nature.


One thought on “The Concept of ‘Mother Nature’ {Sacred, Spiritual Nature}

  1. From my point of view Nature embodies the Great Goddess with every seasonal change. Being with, in communion with this Mother of All stabilizes me whenever I am distressed, angry or feeling alone. That She is sacred is obvious.

    Liked by 1 person

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