Getting to Know the Powers: Earth

A basic introduction of the deity
Earth is the third of the Powers of the Three Realms – Land, Sea and Sky – and most like her mother, Night Earth has no co-ruler, but rules over all the world, from the heights to the depths, and her brothers realms are within her domain as well. But she is most fond of the things that move and dwell on the land – the animals, plants, humans, bacteria and all other members of the Tree of Life. Her grace and affections are fervently sought by both her brothers, as well as others in her generation, for she is the Power of fecundity, of life cycles, of growth and decay, reaping and sowing, and all of the Powers that come after her partake a little in her power. She is both caring and terrifying, simultaneously the Nourishing and the Devouring Mother, and no one will feel her touch and not be utterly changed by it for good or ill. She is the Power to which we all return in time, having spent our lives being nourished and supported in her arms and on her body. She is as vast as the globe and as approachable and unassuming as a blade of grass. You will find her as majestic as the mountain heights, as breathtaking as a sunset, as lovely as a flower, as mysterious as the dark caves and as implacable as the sea waves and the inexorable advance of a glacier.

Symbols and icons of this deity
Cows, the local landscape, veils, sickle, birch trees, groves, swamps/marshes, cattails, reeds, reed, rush or corn dolls, pottery, landscape art, images of cows and other animals, pigs and images of pigs (especially sows), sheaves of wheat, cornucopias, images of rivers/mountains/lakes/valleys/plains/hills, mother iconography

A favorite myth or myths of this deity
The Establishment of the Three Realms
When the Mother, the Twins and the Sisters set forth the bounds and the rules of existence, setting into motion the Great Pattern, the world was still formless and amorphous, potentiality still wrapped in chaos but enfolded within the Pattern. And so the Mother began to shape the next stage of the Pattern, forming the world tripartite. She took a lash from her eye and breathed upon it, and it became a man, full of sight and truth, far-seeing and able to control the powers of the heavens. She took a tear and mixed it with spittle, and held it to her heart, and it became another man, brother to the first, full of wisdom and compassion, deeply-knowing and able to control the powers of the deep. And finally, she took a hair from her groin, mixed it with her fluids and blood, and held it to her belly, and it became a woman, lovely and fertile, both nourishing and consuming, and able to control all the powers of the world. And she revealed these to her other children, and they rejoiced, and the divine twin of light took them to himself and named them his own.
And the man of sight took to the high places, and wed himself to the queen of heaven, the Sister of the seeing, and claimed all of the upper reaches as his kingdom, from the treetops to the mountains, from the dawn on the horizon to the very edge of night.
The man of wisdom took to the deep places, and gave himself to the queen of the waves, the lurker in the depths, and claimed all of the lower reaches as his kingdom, from the rivers to the ocean, from the waves on the shore to the bottom of the trenches.
And the woman surveyed all that remained, the hills and the valleys, the peaks and the caves, the forests and marshes and plains, high and low and in-between, and gave herself to herself, and named herself queen over all things, subject to no man or woman but Night and the Sisters and the Great Pattern itself, and she rules over all things that move and live upon this world, from the birds of the air, to the creatures of the deep, for her realm contains and touches the others. But over the creatures and beings of the land she rules alone.
And the brothers quarrel endlessly, desiring the woman for themselves, to woo her and gain her favor. And at times she chooses the first, at at other times she chooses the second, but she is bound to neither, for she is the Earth, and all things that live and move in this world are born of her, nourished by her, and shall be consumed by her in the end.

Members of the family – genealogical connections
Mother – Night
Father – none
Siblings – Divine Twins, Weird Sisters, Sky, Water
Consorts – Water, Sky, Fire, Abundance
Children – Passion,, Life, Wind, Death, Light, Sun, Moon

Other related deities and entities associated with this deity
Weird Sisters

Names and epithets
Earth Mother, Holy Queen, Mother of Soil, Grain-Mother, White Cow, Lady of Valor, Mother of the Fields, Sacred Lady, Ancient Mother, Mother of Birches, Lady of the Marshes, Sacred Cow, Milk of Life, Sacred Lady, Lady of the Taboo, Faceless One,
Nerthus, Jörð, Hlödyn, Hertha, Fjorgynn, Ethniu, Tailtiu, Nantosuelta, Boann, Žemyna/Zemes-mãte, Nemetona, Demeter, Ceres, Cel, Tellus/Terra Mater, Gaia, Mara, Litavis, Rhea, Ops, and Cybele are all Euro-American deities and spirits that can potentially work in this slot, for those pursuing specific cultures and mythologies.
Non-Euro-American deities that work are Urash, Bhumi, Prithvi, Ninhursag, Ki/Kishar Asherah/Athirat, Yer Tanrıça, and Etügen Eke/Eje
Euro-American deities that work but should probably not be used due to oppression/appropriation issues are Maa-ema (Estonian/Finnish)
Euro-American deities that work but should not be used due to oppression/appropriation issues are Mari and Lurbira (Basque), Mastor-ava (Mordvin), and Raedieahkka/Maderakka (Sámi)
Non-Euro-American deities that work but should not be used due to oppression/appropriation issues are Pachamama (Inca/Peruvian), Ala (Igbo), Coatlicue/Toci/Tonantzin (Aztec/Nahuatl), Papa (Kanaka Maoli/Maori) and Asase Ya (Ashanti)

Variations on this deity (aspects, regional forms, etc.)
Earth has three main aspects: the Giver of Sustenance, the Mother of All, and the Holy One
The Giver of Sustenance is the first of Earth’s (not entirely) benevolent faces. In this form and with this name, she is the provider of food, of water, of air, of all the materials and substances we require to live. She is nurturing and comforting, though she does not only favor humans. But she can also be terrible in that if she withholds her gifts, whether in the form of poor harvests, lack of shelter, or storms and other natural disasters, we will not long survive.
The Mother of All is the second of Earth’s (not entirely) benevolent faces. This aspect is closely tied to the first, in that she is seen as a sustaining and providing parent, but also extends to birth and death. She is the mother of every living and non-living being that dwells in or on the earth, and all her children are in her care. This face can also be discomfiting, in that humanity is not her favorite or most important child, but merely one of millions, and so if we expect special treatment or a bending of the rules of nature because of some vaunted self-important status, we will be sorely disappointed when the reckoning comes.
The Holy One is the non-benevolent face of Earth, though not necessarily hostile unless transgressed against. This is the veiled, masked, untouchable, sacred mystery that can be found in all the holy and taboo places of the world. She is aloof, showing herself to only the worthy, and bringing retribution on those who defile her holiness. The ley lines are kept by her, and their joinings are her most sacred halls.

Festivals, days, and times sacred to this deity
All times, days and feasts are sacred to her

Any mundane practices that are associated with this deity?
Anything involving the earth, soil, landscape or motherhood

How does this deity relate to other gods and other pantheons?

How does this deity stand in terms of gender and sexuality?
Earth is herself almost exclusively female and feminine, though she welcomes all as her children, and in some places was specially served by those without or between genders.
She is predominately heterosexual in her mythic pairings (Sky, Water, Fire, and Abundance), though there is an extremely bonding and intimate connection between all the female or female-oriented Powers that can be sexual as well as not.

Art that reminds you of this deity

Music that makes you think of this deity
Earth Mother, Ani Williams & Lisa Thiel
Mother of All That Is Alive, Ani Williams & Lisa Thiel
Mother of All Things, Ani Williams & Lisa Thiel
Isle of the Mystic Lake, Adiemus
This Sacred Land, Ah Nee Mah
Tower of Stone, Ah Nee Mah
The Bard’s Exhortation to the Salaryman, Annwn
Sumer is Y-cumen In, Annwn
Earth, Brian Crain
Meadowland, Amethystium
Genesis Hibernia, Dagda
Grace Cathedral Hill, The Decemberists
Behold the Passionate Ways of Nature, Hagalaz’ Runedance
Heartbeat of the Earth, Inkubus Sukkubus
Sanctuary, Inkubus Sukkubus
The Earth is Our Mother, Libana
Ancient Mother, Libana
Corn Mother, Lisa Thiel
Mother Earth, Within Temptation
Kodamas, Joe Hisaishi
Emerald Island, Leaves’ Eyes
Come by the Hills, Loreena McKennitt
Standing Stones, Loreena McKennitt
The Mystic’s Dream, Loreena McKennitt
Shenandoah, Sissel
This Moment, Fiona Joyce,
Trees, Fiona Joyce
The Rolling of the Stones, The Hare and The Moon

A quote, a poem, or piece of writing that you think this deity resonates strongly with
“There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.” – Wendell Berry
“…the care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.” – Wendell Berry
“Reclaiming the sacred in our lives naturally brings us close once more to the wellsprings of poetry.” -Robert Bly
“In this moment, everything is sacred.” – Ariel Books
“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.
Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.
A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.
A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.
When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.
A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.
So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.” – Herman Hesse
“To encounter the sacred is to be alive at the deepest center of human existence. Sacred places are the truest definitions of the earth; they stand for the earth immediately and forever; they are its flags and shields. If you would know the earth for what it really is, learn it through its sacred places. At Devil’s Tower or Canyon de Chelly or the Cahokia Mounds, you touch the pulse of the living planet; you feel its breath upon you. You become one with a spirit that pervades geologic time and space.” – N. Scott Momeday
“…the Sierra, a region so quiet and pristine that we have the sense of being the first human beings ever to set foot in it. We fall silent ourselves in its midst, as if conversation in a place of such primeval solitude would be like talking in church.” – Jim Fergus
“If you have been in the vicinity of the sacred – ever brushed against the holy – you retain it more in your bones than in your head; and if you haven’t, no description of the experience will ever be satisfactory.” – Daniel Taylor
“The secret and the sacred are sisters. When the secret is not respected, the sacred vanishes. Consequently, reflection should not shine too severe or aggressive a light on the world of the soul.” – John O’Donohue
“Earth’s crammed with heaven…
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.” – Elizabeth Barrett Browning
“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” – John Muir
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…” – John Muir
“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair” – Kahlil Gibran
“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.” – Kahlil Gibran
“Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculite patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.” – Cormac McCarthy
“What you take from the earth, you must give back. That’s nature’s way.” – Chris d’Lacey
“The earth will not continue to offer its harvest, except with faithful stewardship. We cannot say we love the land and then take steps to destroy it for use by future generations.” – John Paul II
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” – Rachel Carson
“It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know the sense of wonder and humility. ” – Rachel Carson
“Earth, my dearest, oh believe me, you no longer need your springtimes to win me over…Unspeakably, I have belonged to you, from the flush.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
“The love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth, the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only paradise we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need, if only we had the eyes to see.” – Edward Abbey
“How can we be so arrogant? The planet is, was, and always will be stronger than us. We can’t destroy it; if we overstep the mark, the planet will simply erase us from its surface and carry on existing. Why don’t they start talking about not letting the planet destroy us?” – Paulo Coelho
“Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there.” – Gary Snyder
“Kinship with all creatures of the earth, sky, and water was a real and active principle. In the animal and bird world there existed a brotherly feeling that kept us safe among them… The animals had rights – the right of man’s protection, the right to live, the right to multiply, the right to freedom, and the right to man’s indebtedness. This concept of life and its relations filled us with the joy and mystery of living; it gave us reverence for all life; it made a place for all things in the scheme of existence with equal importance to all.” – Chief Luther Standing Bear
“We are the children of the earth and removed from her our spirit withers.” – George Macaulay Trevelyan

Any suggestions for others just starting to learn about this deity?
Clean up a natural place, set up a shrine/altar outdoors, donate to environmental causes, become a “nature” activist, protect the weak/less fortunate, protect a sacred place, make a sacred place, learn about your bioregion, reintegrate into your local rhythms, spend time outside getting to know the animals and plants that live near you, walk barefoot (safely)


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