by Jonathan Evatt Online

Was there Global Recognition of the Divine Mother ?

I was reading through an interesting web page with information on ancient prophecies. Someone made the comment that the idea of an “Mother Earth” within Native North America is a new idea. The commenter seemed to primarily be referring to it being a new term within Native American ideology, suggesting that it arose from a book credited to Black Elk of the Sioux, and that the concept then became popular in the 1980’2 onward. He said has found no reference to this concept across Canadian or North American native tribes.

Here’s what I wrote in reply to his observations… which I am posting here as it may be of interest to my readership.

The Earth Mother, and the Mother of the Earth

I am not sure whether you are particularly looking for reference to the exact phrase “mother earth” or for something that references that concept. The concept most certainly exists, and there is evidence showing it goes back at least 20,000 years or more. However, I am no historian of Native North American traditions, so I can’t comment there. But I can give other examples, that would suggest it’s highly UNLIKELY the Native North American’s had no concept of the mother of creation, and of the Earth as a Motherly Being.

In New Zealand, the Maori refer to Papatuanuku. That’s the Earth Mother in their language. It dates back thousands of years.

The Kogi people of Columbia (a pre-Columbian civilisation still intact today) refer to the Mother in a vast array of manifestations. One of those is the Mother of the Earth. But for them, pretty much everything has a Mother. Mountains, lakes, species, the Sun, etc, and everything is born out of a the Mother. Their very existence is dedicated to the Mother. They also refer to the creative dimension or “mind” of the Mother… called Aluna.

Elsewhere throughout the Andes there is the recognition of Pachamama, the Earth Mother, the source and creator of all life on Earth.

In India there are a multitude of references to the Mother aspect of creation. The most cosmic or vast is Gayatri, the Mother of all Creation. Shakti is a reference to more of an Earthly creative mother energy. Another example is Nullri Laksmi, the eternal consort of Lord Visnu and life-giver to Him and all the world. Then there’s the Goddess Devi, in whom the world and gods exist and flourish. There are many other similar Divine, Cosmic, and Earth Mother names and deities in the Hindu culture.

Early Christian ideology also referred to the Mother. Not specifically “Earth Mother” but most certainly a Divine Feminine aspect of Creation. Early Gnostic Christian texts refer to the Mother extensively. The Catholic concept of the Mother Virgin Mary was also used as a representation of the Divine Mother, and had links to the notion of the Mother of the Earth, even as the Mother of God.

It also helps to look at the meaning behind common words we use. The English word “matter” comes from the Greek and Latin word ‘matar’, meaning Mother. This is reflective of a culture and ideology that related to the Earth and the physical dimension as a Mother or Motherly force.

‘Earth’ in Greek is ‘Gaia’, which also refers to a feminine Goddess deity who is the Mother of the Earth.

Throughout Slavic, Scandinavian, European, Middle Eastern, North African, Celtic, Roman, etc. cultures are a plentitude of names and references to the Earth Mother. Screeds and screeds of them, actually. Way too many to list here.

divine-motherThe word ‘Terra’, which in English refers to Earth, is Roman for a Goddess who is the personification of the Earth. The term Terra Mater was a common reference to the Mother Earth.

The exact term “Earth mother” in English is etymologically attributed back to at least 1904, as a literal translation of German ‘erdmutter’, which refers to a Goddess that is the source of Life. Again, it means “Earth Mother”.

As for Canada and North America? Well, as I said… I am not an expert on such things. But in light of what I have just shared above, I would be VERY VERY surprised if somehow the vast number of tribes and cultures that once lived in those regions of the Earth were collectively somehow one of the only ancient human cultures and traditions to be oblivious to the notion of the Earth Mother… to the mother as the source of all Life, and form, of their very being.

~ Some potential evidence of Native North American appreciation of the Mother of the Earth ~
Not content with leaving this subject and not speaking more to the Native (North) American relationship to ‘Mother Earth’, I’ve done a little research into the Native American side of this story… and here are a few quotations that indicate that indicate to me the concept of Mother Earth in Native North America is not something that arose out of the 1960’s…

* Wakan Tanka, the Lakota Sioux name for “Great Spirit,” “Great Mystery,” or Supreme Being, is an amalgamation of a dominant Father sky god, Mother Earth, and numerous spirits who control the elements as well as human life…

* Other Indian nations since ancient times have believed in a Supreme Being whom they called “father” and thought of either as a man or an animal — especially a wolf — with human thoughts and speech. This creator god is addressed by the Shoshone, for instance, as Tam Apo (“Our Father”). Belief in a Mother Earth figure echoes the Neolithic Goddess culture in which women were essentially equal partners with men, and the feminine principle was openly acknowledged as the great source of human, animal, and vegetable life.

* Hopi Maze or Mother Earth Symbol
– This is an important symbol of the Hopi people and many other Native American tribes. The Maze represents the maze of life, that is, the obstacles and challenges that one has to overcome to evolve spiritually and become one with the divine power. It is also known as the Mother Earth symbol and signifies the deep bond between the mother Earth and us, her children. The center line symbolizes the child (a metaphor for the beginning of our philosophical journey) and the surrounding maze represents the mother’s (Earth’s or Nature’s) support that is always available to guide the child through life. The Mother Earth/Maze symbol identifies all that is sacred in nature and reminds man to revere and be thankful to it.

* Ina maka — This term translates as “mother earth.” (Oglala Lakota)

* (from Wikipedia): The Hopi people of North America (Turtle Island), Arizona, USA, refer to the Earth as Tuuwaqatsi-Earth Mother. According to the knowledge they have carefully preserved down the ages, the Earth is our “Land and our Life,” which is remembered in their first law: Tutskwa I’qatsi – Land and Life are one. The Goddess-Earth has a male counterpart representing the inner life or core of the Earth. This inner life-soul-mind-womb is sometimes referred to as Maski, or spirit-home, the place where people go following death. This place is sometimes referred to as the “underworld.”

++ There’s also plenty of interesting reading here:
Whilst it’s not all specifically about “Earth Mother”, it’s all relevant, and there is a section on Earth Mother traditions.

** Granted, I’ve not researched the original sources of these quotes, so they might all be invalid. But I doubt that’s the case, and they certainly seem on parr with what one might expect, based on how most other ancient and indigenous cultures had an appreciation of the Divine Mother, and of the Earth as Mother, or the Mother of the Earth.

So where did The Mother go?

Looking at the above information—which really only scratches the surface of this topic—it would seem the Mother took a long holy-day somewhere other than here on Earth. In contemporary “Western” societies there is almost zero reference to the Divine Mother and the Earth Mother. She’s all but vanished. Where did she go, and how?

Of course, the Mother didn’t go anywhere, it’s more a question of where did she go within our view of the world. Some people speak of us living in an age of materialism which is in fact maternalism at its root, which implies the -ism of the Mother. Yet our society is basically oblivious to the idea of the Divine Mother. Some religions refer to the Divine Father, yet want to us to believe the Mother’s gone on eternal maternity leave or something.

From my perspective the Mother was systematically and intentionally removed from the Human story. She was an inconvenience, in more ways than one, that those who wished to maintain power and control over the world wanted to do without. Millions of Goddess worshiping women were killed right across Europe not that long ago. Nearly all pagan (and Goddess worshipping) traditions were intentionally whipped out. Indigenous and native cultural traditions (and often the entire culture and race) were destroyed all over the world. Most of this madness was done in the name of spreading an almost entirely patriarchal religion around the world. A religion that previously eliminated its own references to and acknowledgement of the Divine Feminine.

So it’s not that the Mother has gone. She’s as present as a human mother is present to the birth of a human child. Simply put, the Mother is indispensable. We just need to open our spiritual eyes (and Heart) and SEE.