Do you know how to talk with Mother Earth?
We all talk about the earth all the time, but that’s something different. I mean talking directly to her.
There’s a lot of talk about taking care of the environment, stopping pollution, growing organic food, preserving forests, etc.
But again, that’s just talking about her.
It’s like talking about someone who’s right in the same room with you while you otherwise ignore them. Sort of rude, isn’t it?
Why should we talk with the Earth?
The Earth we live on is alive. She breathes. She grows and changes through the seasons and weather patterns, as well as over time. Just like us. Except that she doesn’t seem to age except by our thoughtlessness.
She’s our relative: an average adult human is made of 70% water. So is Mother Earth.
She speaks to us all the time — we just have to learn how to listen.
In his groundbreaking classic Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth, scientist James Lovelock made a good argument for seeing the planet as a living entity.
Since Gaia was first published, many of Lovelock’s predictions have come true, even though his theory is hotly contested in some scientific circles.
Many of our astronauts looking back at Earth have reached the same conclusion as Lovelock: that she is a living being.
Of course, Native peoples the world over have always viewed the Earth as being a living entity, and once again scientists are trying to catch up.
Native Americans viewed the Great Spirit and Mother Earth as equal partners in providing life and balance. [By the way, it wasn’t until the missionaries came along that the Great Spirit became “He”].
And as many spiritual teachers have said: What we do to the Earth we do to ourselves. Yet one more reason to respect her and communicate with her.
How can we talk with Mother Earth?
1. Introduce your children to her: In the opening pages of The Wind Is My Mother, Bear Heart describes how a mother will take her newborn outside and introduce it to the elements: the four directions, Mother Earth, the sun, the breeze, water, fire, moon and stars.
To the Earth she said:
“Dear Mother and Grandmother Earth, one day this child will walk, play and run on you. I will try to teach him to have respect for you as he grows up. Wherever he may go, please be there supporting him and taking care of him.”
Teach your children: “Let your every step be as a prayer.”
A Native American friend of mine takes her 7-year old child into the garden each morning to greet the trees, plants and grasses. That is a child who will grow up loving and caring for the Earth.
2. Dance: your feet bless the Earth with joy when you dance. Native American dances are considered blessings to the Earth. Joy always brings blessings and good health. Dancing on the Earth transmits that joy to her.
3. Make offerings: “Even today, in our respect for the land, if Native people are going to take something from it, be it herbs, a stone or Earth itself, we always give an offering, usually tobacco, in return. Then we very gently take that herb or stone — because this is the face of our Mother Earth that we’re marring — and we pray that we will use it in a good manner.” Bear Heart
Before digging a hole or building any structure, make an offering and ask permission. Here’s an interesting explanation as to why from Bear Heart:
“Many people were hurt on the Nimitz Highway in San Francisco when that earthquake came.
“In the building of a highway, I just can’t picture an engineer giving an offering to this Mother Earth and saying to her, ‘I’ve been commissioned to build this structure on your face here. We’re going to use it in a good way, to help people get to work and to their homes. I offer just this little token of respect to you for the privilege of building it.’
“That’s the way my people were taught to do things. That’s our way of communicating with the Earth. I don’t see an engineer doing that when he’s got so many dollar signs luring him to sign his name on the dotted line. I can’t see an engineer or a commissioner of highways even think about giving an offering.”
Perhaps it’s time for our builders to do so.
4. When you eat a meal, leave just a little bit on the plate and take it outside as an offering to Mother Earth. It’s a way of saying, “thank you.”
In their ceremonies, Native Americans often make a spirit plate – a plate of food just for the spirit world and for Mother Earth – it represents an acknowledgement that everything we have comes from Mother Earth and we are grateful.
Or you can say “Grace” at the beginning of the meal – a thank you for what we have received from her and are about to eat.
4. Recycle and more: Our actions are a form of communication:
Refuse junk mail,
pick up trash when you’re out and about, even if it’s not yours;
bring your own bags to the supermarket and refuse plastic bags.
All these actions add up and go far, and are a form of communication.
Don’t just talk about what needs to be done, use your mind, heart and spirit to communicate from your heart and back it up with your actions.
Even a simple “thank you” for her gifts is a powerful thing. That’s what true communication is.
What other ways have you found of communicating with Mother Earth? I’d love to hear.