DATE. 08.17.20


A letter to Her Majesty

Photo: Anne Brigman

Whilst in the throes of a love affair with Earth In Her Season, I stumbled across this quote from the lusty tome The Deep Ecology Movement:

“The photograph of earth taken from outer space by a satellite that shows the whole blue orb with spirals and whorls of cloud, was a great landmark for human consciousness. We see that it has a shape, and it has limits.”

I remember a story I heard about the writing of my favorite song - Terra - an ode to the naked curves of Earth by Brazilian musician and anarcho-provacateur Caetano Veloso. It’s the most beautiful f*&%ing song that ever graced our hoary hobgoblin ears, and we are surely not worthy of its majesty, but regardless - go listen to it right now. Veloso wrote the song from the depths of a jail cell, doing time for protesting police brutality during a period in which Brazil had suspended habeas corpus. From his captivity, he witnessed those very same photographs of Earth taken by the first astronauts on the moon. Gazing at her, he distilled her celestial grandeur into an swoony, sparse, seraphic ode to Her supernal shape as witnessed from above —

From where, neither time nor space

May the Force send courage

For us to treat you tenderly

During all the journeys

That you carry out in the nothing

Through which you bear

The name of your flesh…

Earth! Earth!

However distant

The wandering navigator

Who could ever forget you?

The song is sung entirely in Portuguese, but its message was never lost on our english ears; Despite our various freedoms, we are ALL longing heretics trapped inside a prison of our own creation, calling out to Her to hold us. Earth…Won’t you re-parent us? Give us what we never got? Shell out something sweet to take away the pain? Teach us about enduring beauty? Won’t you be our lover AND our mother? (Esther Perel would have a bona fide field day with all this).

The Earth has always been fetishized as a talisman of unconditional love and generosity. She connects and unifies us in our differences as inhabitants of her home, mediates conflict, and soothes with her boundless breast. We call her Mother and she gets our needs met gracefully with silent aplomb. Sympathy, in the Chinese Five Element tradition, is the emotion of the Earth element, and you can feel it in her liberal charities and licentious largesse. As if by the grace of a hidden hand, our Mistress of Eternal Empathy anticipates our needs, placing the medicines we seek for the plague du jour smack dab in the palm of our hands. Toxic oil spill!? Here’s an oil-eating Oyster mushroom to devour the poison miasma! Malarial outbreak?! Here’s a heap of Artemisia Annua growing in the garden path! Her body is sustenance for the entire swathe of terrestrial enterprise. She endures abuse, and continue to provide for us. Think of the Amazon.

In the cosmic re-parenting, an out of balance Earth element in our own bodies is reflected as an insatiable neediness, a loss of connection to source that is dealt with by compulsive consumption, eroding our digestion of both food and experience. We may even feel the need to over-give ourselves, equating self-worth with the ability to caretake for others at the expense of our own flowering. When our internal Earth is shaky, we may find ourselves resisting change or avoiding choices that might jeopardize security and stability. Working on the Earth element in acupuncture and herbal medicine pulls us back to our center, empowering us with feeling at home wherever we go. Cue ‘This Must Be The Place.’

Though we often debauch her narrative by casting her as bruised and battered, a hapless victim of patriarchy that needs our saving, Earth is QUEEN and has been self care-taking and evolving solutions since time immemorial (learn from this). Her timeline is not one of minutes and years, but of centuries and millenniums, and us Children of Earth often miss how she regulates and repairs. She didn’t need a #selfcare hashtag with a jaunty blonde in a bathtub to teach her how to patch her wounds. If she needs a solution, she creates one, quite literally (hello, evolution). This is something to consider when we work on healing our inner Earth element. I think of the incantation I have from the artist DeeDee Cheriel hanging in my home - You Have Everything You Need. Late summer and the gentle work of nourishing our Earth element imparts this sense of sublime security and abundant bounty, much needed to combat the chaos of culture that is insistent that we never have enough.

In Her season, perhaps more than ever, the umbilical connection to Earth as home and navigator is paramount as we float through deep space untethered and astray. The advice for those floating comes again from The Deep Ecology Movement:

“We must find our way to seeing the mineral cycles, the water cycles, air cycles, nutrient cycles, as sacramental—and we must incorporate that insight into our own personal spiritual quest and integrate it with all the wisdom teachings we have received from the nearer past. The expression of it is simple: gratitude to it all, taking responsibility for your own acts, keeping contact with the sources of the energy that flow into your own life, i.e. dirt, water, flesh.”

This is why I write to Her daily like a provincial taoist Carrie Bradshaw.

Earth! Earth! Earth! Who could ever forget you?