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A Pagan Response to Endangered Earth

Author: Radko Vacek
Posted: February 3rd. 2013
Times Viewed: 2,721

Complexity may be genius expressed, but simplicity is genius at its best. The best of genius is expressing some idea so elementary that a receptive ten-year-old could understand it, but that everyone else overlooks.

Some of the very best of genius is found in the new Paganism, in the idea of the Deity as the old, loving Mother of all creatures, including us, Her eternal children. What is so ingenious about this simple idea? Its implications make it ingenious, for it implies a worldview, which is very powerful and different from the current paradigm.

What is the difference between God, the Father of the Bible, and the Goddess, our Mother? With the Deity in the image of a father, the focus is on authority, whereas in the image of a mother, the focus is on nurturance. In the Bible, man is created in the image of God; therefore, like God, man, from the very beginning, has power: he can choose to heed or not to heed the authority of God. If we accept Deity as the nurturing Mother, we are essentially powerless: we can grow empowered only to the extent that our Mother, who is the sole source of power, deems us ready to be weaned from dependence.

You may ask, is it not better to accept the Biblical model? One might feel more secure with a worldview in which one has power from the very start. What does this mean, to have power? It means to have freedom, as in, "I can freely choose." The problem with thinking that you have this innate power is that it might well be illusion and, in fact, cover up the worst powerlessness! Among the greatest of the new Pagans, and among the greatest geniuses of all times, Goethe endorsed the following wise saying, "No one is more thoroughly enslaved than the one who thinks of one's own self as free." Therefore, the awesome advantage of thinking of ourselves as having started as the powerless children of the Mother is that its implications direct us toward the utmost power we may attain: responsibility.

I have seen some Pagans in shirts with the slogan, "Witches heal the Earth." If you accept my idea of the Goddess as the Mother, as in Mother Earth, then that slogan is inconsistent with Her being the powerful one. As powerful as She is, in my model, She does not need to get healed by this outside, merely human effort! It works better to think that Mother Earth can heal Herself, if moved to do so. The ultimate degree of independence, with which Mother Earth can bless us, is behaving with that responsibility which moves Her to heal Herself.

We can think of Global Warming as like a fever, a symptom of an illness, which She has. What is the cause? Some Christians interpret Global Warming as a sign of the end times, that is, as a manifestation of Divine Will. The genius in the idea of the Deity as the Mother of us is the better interpretation it implies: Global Warming as a result of human irresponsibility. If our irresponsibility causes Her to fall ill, then our taking of responsibility could move Her to heal Herself.

What does this concept, responsibility, really mean? It is the sum of the concepts "ability" plus "to respond, " which equals, "ability to respond." In the preceding paragraph, the ultimate degree of independence, which can be given to us by our Earth Mother, is defined in terms of responsibility. This means that, in order for us to become responsible, She must wean us from irresponsibility, that is, we must learn to respond in certain ways. What are those ways? As I will explain, to respond in humane ways to the creatures upon which man now preys.

The health of our Mother is proportional to the biological diversity on Earth. We know that Mother Earth is ill because Her temperature is rising, that is, Global Warming. Global Warming is the direct reflection of deforestation, which is directly proportional to endangerment of species for loss of habitat. Therefore, the essence of moving Mother Earth to heal Herself is responding empathically to Her living things as they struggle for their welfare and very survival in an increasingly man-made world. How do we let responsibility direct our love into acting as kindly as we should to the creatures upon which man now preys? How do we best teach our children to respond kindly to the diverse, biological faces of Mother Earth?

One of the best ways, based on a widely confirmed law of psychology, is emulating the behavior of people modeling responsibility in situations not that different from ones we might encounter. One of the greatest values of books is their potential to expand our choices of role models. Unfortunately, we do not so often witness people in exemplary action in everyday life! An outstanding book for us Ge worshippers is, Animals Can Be Almost Human, published by The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., in 1979. Not many books like it are getting published anymore, partly because there are not nearly as many animals left as just thirty-three years ago!

It suffices to mention just two of its realistic stories, one about a family, which befriends raccoons and the other about a man who nurtures an orphaned beaver kit. The one is titled, "Raccoons Are the Brightest People." The author wrote something about animals, which has eternal relevance to the human animal. Sterling North stated the observation that, apparently, in the animal kingdom, the greater the intelligence of a species, the wider the variability in the personalities among its members. That statement was made in reference to contrasting two raccoons, but clearly it can be adapted to make the following, essential point about us:

The greater the intelligence of an animal species, the wider the variability in the behavioral characteristics among its members. I have expanded Sterling North's observation from, "personalities, " to all behavioral characteristics, that is, including intelligence, better understood in the adjective form, "intelligent, " as in, "intelligent behavior." That author mentioned this observation in the context of a particular raccoon described as having a high I.Q. even for so bright a species as the raccoon. The average intelligence of raccoons is relatively high compared to all other animals, but nothing compared to the human animal.

Therefore, if even among raccoons there is noticeable variability in intelligence, how much more we find variability among us! This has a crucial implication for asking questions of the type, is race A smarter than race B? This type of question can only be answered in terms of averages averaged over individual members of each "race." Even if it is found true that race B on average is duller than race A, relevance takes precedence over truth here. The variability among members of the human species is so great as to make the fact irrelevant. It is the answer to a question that was irrelevant in the first place, and therefore not even worth asking. For instance, if you belong to the so-called "race" A, no need exists for you to boost your self-esteem merely by virtue of your birth. You may be smart, but countless members of "race" B are smarter!

The second of the two outstanding stories hints at what does count as relevant differences between people. It is titled, "Paddy, Orphan of the Wild." This fascinating, essential law of nature is mentioned:

Not only among the beaver, but also among all species of wildlife, in some way the number of members of each species is maintained within the limit of what the territorial food supply can maintain. For instance, some social animals, including wolves and beaver, have been evolved with innate birth-control methods activated whenever the number of its kind nears exceeding the food supply. In the case of beaver, at these times they have fewer kits by somehow regulating the number of eggs fertilized, or by refusing to mate.

Why does man not have such an innate way of responding to wanton population growth? Is it because the Bible is right, that man, made in the image of God, is not an animal? No! Man is just as much a social animal as beaver, and therefore is just as much subject to natural laws. What mainly makes the difference is that evolution has left man with a more elaborate brain; that is, man has the ability to conceive of weapons to aid in hunting, but especially to conceive of destroying a forest to plant his crops. This opens the door to nearly limitless food supply, so that man did not need to be programmed with innate birth-control strategies. Consequently, we very much lack these strategies now, even though some of us have reached the point of starvation! Evolution has not been able to keep up with the fastness of our intelligence.

The fatal flaw in the intelligence of man, at his present stage, is that it leads to global destruction. Let us start with the first couple in the wilderness. They clear some of the seemingly boundless forest to feed those ten children. Each of them grows up and clears more forest to feed ten more children. In just three generations, the population in their neck of the woods has gone from two to one hundred plus, with a much bigger part of the forest gone than anyone takes the time to realize. Trees absorb carbon dioxide. With fewer and fewer trees, carbon dioxide keeps building up. This has been recurring long enough that there are few forests left, and enough carbon dioxide for noticeable global warming. How are we best to gauge the importance of this warming?

James Lovelock, the award-winning chemist, recently has published a series of books concerning the Gaia Hypothesis. He has supported his hypothesis with important facts about the biochemistry of the ecosystems on Earth. It proposes that the processes of all the ecosystems are so finely tuned and self-regulating to maintain a homeostasis characteristic of an organism. Therefore, he hypothesized that Earth may be considered not only an aggregate of interdependent, living ecosystems, but also one living organism, Gaia. This idea is very welcome to many new Pagans, who love to think of Earth as Mother Earth, a living Goddess.

Although the tradition is to call Her the Mother, considering the fact that She first gave birth to life at least three billion years ago, is it not more accurate to see Her as a crone? We might well say that Global Warming means Grandma is running a fever. Not that She is necessarily sick of us, but because of us. Given that She is old, the fever, Global Warming, might mean a life-or-death emergency: if not reversed, all terrestrial life might well die. What are the implications to us?

United we succeed, divided we fail. Therefore, may we not make even one unnecessary division in our species, as we give 100% to the effort of moving Mother Earth to heal Herself? Let there be neither smart, purple people nor dull, pink ones, but rather, an ever-growing union of mature, responsible people! This union does not exclude Christians, if they are mature, responsible people who use their attitude to respond respectfully to all of the creatures judged as good by the God of the Bible.

Together we need to reverse the inertia of human irresponsibility. As I put it in my poem, Human Nature, posted on Witchvox, "Instead of merely changing the nature of the world around us, let us transform ourselves to be of a nature greater: the person to respond in humane ways to the creatures upon which man now preys." We need to be mature in taking the attitude that the diverse faces of the animals also are the many faces of our nurturing Goddess Ge. She is granting to us the chance to take the mature responsibility needed to move Her to heal Herself, and to make this ultimate lesson possible, She allows Herself to be vulnerable enough to be moved.

How ingenious the implications are, of the childishly simple idea of Earth as the old, loving Mother of all creatures, including us! Yes indeed, simplicity is genius at its best, and among the best of genius can be found in the new Paganism!


Radko Vacek

Location: Toledo, Ohio

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