The resurrection of Father Earth and the return of true partnership between women and men
The world changed for me in 1993. It began on February 23 at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, where I sat with two hundred men and women and listened to the mythologist Michael Meade and the writer Clarissa Pinkola Estes discuss male and female archetypes. The workshop was appropriately titled: Ovarios y Cojones: Labyrinths of Memory and Danger in Women and Men.
It was a lively exchange and a powerful collaboration between two powerful storytellers, a man and a woman, who took turns sharing their gifts, which took us deep into the male and female experience. Towards the end of the day, something unexpected happened when Clarissa offered the following poem, which surprised everyone. "It's called Father Earth," she intoned in her low voice. Most of those in attendance had read or heard of her bestselling book Women Who Run With Wolves, but no one knew that she was also writing poetry. As soon as she shared the title, shivers ran down my spine with the surprising association between father and earth.
Like most, I had connections with God, Father, and Mother Earth. But what she offered in her poem took me into a whole new world and healed wounds that had been part of the human experience for thousands of years.
"Father Earth," she began.
Her words resonated in the silent auditorium: "There is a two million year old man who no one knows." “They cut into its rivers. They peeled wide pieces of skin from his legs. They left burn marks on his buttocks. "
"He didn't scream."
“No matter what they did to him, he didn't scream.
"He held on."
“Now he raises his stabbed hands and whispers that we can still heal him. We start with the bandages, the gauze rolls, the bowel, the needle and the grafts. "
“Slowly and carefully we turn his body upwards. And below him is his lifelong lover, the old woman, perfect and unmarked. "
“He lay on top of his two million year old wife the whole time, protecting her with his old back and his old scarred back.
And the ground beneath her is fertile and black with her tears. "
I felt tears run down my cheeks. I felt indescribably moved. I knew that women had taken a significant step toward liberation when they changed the language from a male sky god to invoke the earthly connected goddesses, and Clarissa offered a healing and reconciliation between men and women and a new understanding of Men, women and women the earth that is our home.
I have thought about the words in the poem many times since I first heard them twenty-seven years ago.
- "There is a two million year old man who no one knows." Reminds me that our human heritage goes back a long way. The male is connected to the earth, but we have forgotten Father Earth.
- "He didn't scream … He held on." Reminds me of masculine strength and calm steadfastness.
- "We can still cure him." It is not too late to heal our relationship with the earth.
- "And below him is his lifelong lover, the old woman, perfect and unmarked." The spirit of the earth is not male or female, but male and female in dynamic harmony. The masculine energies are not destructive, but protective and in close connection with the feminine.
- "And the ground beneath her is fertile and black with her tears." I still get constipated when those last words echo within me. The feminine weeps for the pain of what has been done to the earth and for the pain suffered by her lover, the old man, who has protected her all along while her tears feed the ground.
The poem, the bringing together of the female body and mind (ovarios) with the male body and mind (cojones), the connection of Michael and Clarissa and all the men and women who were present and now you reading this are part of one two million year old story of female / male love and healing that is needed today more than ever.
That same summer, 1993, I attended a men's conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, sponsored by Wingspan Magazine. As part of the conference, we were invited to take part in a traditional sweat lodge ceremony that expanded and deepened my experience with Clarissa and Michael.
I had attended a series of sweat lodge ceremonies where we entered a womb-like hut made of natural materials, where we followed ancient traditions to pray and ask for healing wisdom for ourselves and "all of our relatives." But this time I was put into a vision in which I saw how the "ship of civilization" sank and "boats of life" fled with people and created a new world in which people were connected and in balance with nature, without trying to dominate and control the natural world.
What I've come to understand over the years is this:
- "Civilization" is a misnomer. Its real name is the "Dominator Culture".
In their book Our Human Story, Louise Humphrey and Chris Stringer, researchers at the Natural History Museum, say that our human ancestry goes back at least two million years to the days of Homo habilis (craftsmen). Our human ancestors lived lightly in the countryside, hunting and foraging until we began domesticated plants and animals about ten thousand years ago. It was customary to view our earlier ancestors as "primitive" and our newer ancestors as "civilized".
But that's really a myth. In his book The Tender Carnivore and the Sacred Game, Paul Shepard, Professor of Human Ecology and Natural Philosophy at Pitzer College, said:
“Although it has long been the fashion to describe it that way, the world of hunting and gathering tribes is not a valley of constant demonic threat and immeasurable fears. It is a life of risk that is eager to be taken, with very few desires, leisurely and collaboratively, intellectually in a way that is both practical and aesthetic. Most relevant to our time is a life based on the integrity of solitude and human scarcity, in which men do not become a disease to their environment, but live in harmony with one another and with nature. "
More recently, biologist Jared Diamond called civilization "the worst mistake in human history," and historian Yuval Noah Harari said it was "the greatest fraud in history."
- Our human heritage is a partnership.
As long as we subscribe to the myth that "civilization" is the best that humans can achieve, we are doomed to go down with the ship. Riane Eisler, President of the Center for Partnership Studies, has long recognized our human roots in partnership. In her 1987 bestseller The Chalice & the Blade: Our Story Our Future, she describes two alternative possibilities for humanity. “The first, which I call the Dominator model, is popularly known as either patriarchy or matriarchy – the ranking of one half of humanity over the other. The second, where social relationships are primarily based on the principle of linkage rather than ranking, can best be described as a partnership model. "
In her recent book, Nurturing Our Humanity: How Domination and Partnership Shape Our Brain, Life and Our Future, which was written with peace anthropologist Douglas Fry, it says: Types of Humans Societies socialize the male and female halves of humanity for "male" and "female" roles. This is how people learn to see themselves and others. "
- The arrival of the coronavirus is the wake-up call for humanity.
As I write this on September 4, 2020, the coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 875,000 men and women worldwide, of which 200,000 have died in the US alone. Everyone hopes that a vaccine will be found that will end death but fail to realize that it is our futile attempt to dominate control nature that really kills us and a vaccine does not protect us.
Colin Carlson, an ecologist at Georgetown University, says:
“Our species has relentlessly expanded into previously wild spaces. Through intensive agriculture, habitat destruction and rising temperatures, we have uprooted the animals of the planet and forced them into new and tighter areas that are on our doorstep. Humanity has squeezed the world's wildlife in a crushing grip – and viruses have broken out. "
Religious historian, says Thomas Berry,
“We never knew enough. We were also not familiar enough with all of our cousins in the great Earth family. Nor could we listen to the different creatures of the earth, each with their own story to tell. However, now is the time when we will listen or die. "
The hope for our future does not come from more technology, but from a return to our partnership roots. It can begin with the resurrection of Father Earth and the reunification of true partnerships between men and women. I am looking forward to read your comments. Please visit me at www.MenAlive.com/the-blog.
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