"The Woman I love is a Planet."
Paula Gunn Allen
Laguna Pueblo, New Mexico
One of the things I've learned from our Native American peoples is the fact that identifying the physical Earth with the Sacred Feminine does NOT mean that She is the opposite of mind, reason or culture. That is, I am convinced, a duality manufactured by academics who quite frankly don't spend enough time in the Great Outdoors.
Most tribal nations don't have a separate word for "Nature" in their language because their cultures are completely immersed in and inseparable from the natural world. In fact, they would never think to locate wisdom and insight solely in the human mind - as though Nature and the physical realm were devoid of intellect - because they are acutely aware that true wisdom, perceived through the heart, derives from THE LAND and resonates in THE BODY which is a part of that landscape.
In my own intellectual life, I realize that I only know an idea contains an element of truth if it is associated with an AHA! experience that I feel as excitement in my body - a body which is composed, of course, of the same elements I experience and appreciate in the natural world. I may use my head to help with the logical and imaginative elements of an insight, but I have no way of knowing if it contains any truth unless it is corroborated by an excitement I can feel in my body. It is for this reason that I do not agree with the claim that thinking means merely "being in your HEAD."
In addition, I find that my most effective thinking and intellectualizing occurs when I'm hiking, journaling, reading and meditating in the Great Outdoors. It is for this reason that so many of the intellectual insights I receive and work with employ images that come from Wild Places. It would never occur to me, therefore, to think that the Goddess of Nature is the opposite of rationality and intellect. As Nez Perce Chief Joseph so famously stated: "The Earth and myself are of one Mind." For me, therefore, a celebration of International Women's Day is ALSO a celebration of the Feminine Earth.
Photo: Beargrass, Mount Rainier National Park, WA
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Stephen Hatch, M.A. is a spiritual teacher and photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His approach is contemplative, inter-spiritual, and Earth-based.