Beliefnet
The Queen of My Self


APRIL

April is when we celebrate Mother Nature, Mother Earth and all Her creations and creatures. It is all about green growth and the April showers that nourishes it. 


In the beginning, there was woman. And she was versatile. She breathed, she stretched, she strode, she sat, she foraged, she trapped, she planted, she cooked, she ate, she bled, she danced, she laughed, she slept, she dreamed, she played, she prayed. She made art, she made ceremonies, she made love, she made babies. Our modern minds automatically make a connection between these last two activities. But this is only a relatively recent conception, if you’ll pardon my pun.

Woman, like the female of every species, produces young. And she appears to do so with out any particular help. Parthenogenic. Of course, we now know that this feat is accomplished with a certain modest participation by the male, but the outcome of copulation was not always apparent. What was perfectly clear and obvious, was that she was somehow able to fashion from herself the stuff of life. To bear from her own blood and body a new generation. And, as if that wasn’t wondrous enough, she could also manufacture the substance of sustenance so that she could continue to nurture her consummate creations.

She was prolific, capable of repeating the entire miraculous process again and again. In fact it was — and still is in large parts of the world today — quite common for a woman to wean one child only to immediately conceive the next. Our own grandparents commonly came from families with eight, ten, twelve children. Mme. Vassilet, a nineteenth century Russian peasant is the undefeated record holder in the World Fertility Cup. It is well documented that her twenty-seven full term pregnancies produced sixty-nine children, most of whom grew to adulthood. She gave birth to sixteen pairs of twins, seven sets of triplets and four sets of quadruplets. Mother Vassilet was well known in her time and was honored at the imperial court of Czar Alexander II.

Is this not the way of Nature Herself?  Does She not constantly produce and provide? Reproduce and recycle? Engender and embrace? The Earth is alive with the fruit of Her fecundity. Inconceivable multitudes of animals, vegetables and minerals. There are more than a million species of animals, 4,000 species of mammals alone. There are more than 350,000 species of plants, 100,000 species of fungi, 100,000 species of protista (algae and the like) and 10,000 species of monera, including bacteria. Each species made up of how many families, how many individuals?

Mother Earth, Mother Nature, has Her moods as well as any woman might. Her emotions, like the weather, are mutable and span the full spectrum. She rainbow-glows, radiant in health and beauty. She twinkles like the stars; sparkles with good humor. She grows overcast, gets dark, oblique, breezy and cool. She weeps with dew. She simmers and hisses on slow burn. She vents her steam. She quakes in anger. She rumbles and grumbles and tears the house down. She sparks, bursts, erupts, explodes, implodes in passion. She can be gentle, generous, humorous, dependable, destructive and very, very scary. Hell, indeed, hath no fury like an earthy woman scorned.

Nature, then, must be female. Mother Nature, Mother Earth. Father Earth was a totally nonexistent concept and has forever remained so. I have never heard, read, or dreamed even one reference to him. Have you?
***
Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.


APRIL

April is when we celebrate Mother Nature, Mother Earth and all Her creations and creatures. It is all about green growth and the April showers that nourishes it.


 

Earth and woman share a correspondence of function, a facility for creativity and abundance, a grounded worldly wisdom. Each is primary and potent. Each, a creatrix supreme, the giver of life and the sustainer, as well.

Herodotus wrote that all of the known names for the Earth were female. “Nature is our mother,” the Latin proverb proclaims. The Gypsies say, “The Earth is our mother. . .the secret of life comes from the ground.” Asase Ya is the Earth Mother of the African Ashanti. They tell, “We got everything from Asase Ya, food, water: we rest upon Her when we die.”

Humankind, in its infancy, clung to the primal comprehension of a maternal Earth, in the same way that any completely dependent child hangs onto her mother’s hip. The reality of our utter reliance incontrovertible, we held on for dear life. Until only five, six thousand years ago, the archetypal Great Mother, creatrix of all existence, matriarch of the races of god/desses, reigned supreme everywhere. Homer sang her praises, “I shall sing of Gaia, Universal Mother, firmly founded, Oldest of all the Holy Ones.”

Foremost in all early religions, She was personified and identified in many ways, but She was routinely regarded with reverence and deference as a living mother. Mother Earth, universally worshipped as the fertile, female provider, protector and parent, was always treated with great dignity and care. Cultivated fields were left to rest one year in seven lest they become worn out with the never ending work of producing food, and wars were routinely put on hold during the planting season.

Today, we have a global holiday in Her honor. Since 1971, Earth Day has been celebrated to remind the people of the world of the need for the continuing loving care, which is vital to Earth’s safety, and our own. The Vernal Equinox was originally chosen as the official date to honor MotherEarth, perfect for its symbolism — equilibrium and balance — in order to encourage and inspire a universal sense of interdependence, cooperation, and unity. Now we celebrate it on April 22, which has, heretofore, been Arbor Day.

On Earth Day the United Nations Peace Bell is rung to initiate a moment of global equipoise when people worldwide can join in a renewed heartfelt commitment to the protection and care of our imperiled planet. The United Nations Earth Day event is the centerpiece of an annual global holiday that strives to awaken a common objective of universal harmony with nature and neighbors.

The original Earth Day proclamation states, “All individuals and institutions have a mutual responsibility to act as Trustees of Earth, seeking the choices in ecology, economics and ethics that will eliminate pollution, poverty and violence, foster peaceful progress, awaken the wonder of life and realize the best potential for the future of the human adventure.”

From that first Earth Day 39 years ago, has come a growing consensus that every individual and institution should act as Earth Trustees, seeking what can be done in ecology, economics and ethics to benefit all people and the planet, Herself. The goal is to obtain a healthy, peaceful future and speed the day when bells will ring everywhere over the world as we all celebrate together Earth Day, the great day of peace, prosperity and cooperative spirit on Earth.

As gloriously idealistic as it is, one day is only a very modest beginning. Let one Earth Day inspire two, twenty, two hundred. Let every day be Earth Day.

 

***
Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.


APRIL

April is when we celebrate Mother Nature, Mother Earth and all Her creations and creatures. It is all about green growth and the April showers that nourishes it.


Earth is the only planet known to have water. It is, in fact, covered with water over 70% of its surface. Oceans, rivers, ponds, streams, lakes, falls, glaciers and seas run like veins through a living body, carrying refreshment and nutrients to all its parts. And we, children of this earth, mimic its makeup in our own bodies, which are comprised of nearly 80% water. Deprived of adequate water, we quickly become dehydrated — a state which we can survive for only a very few days.

Despite the fact that our planet is comprised of more than two-thirds water, usable water is not necessarily readily available. Most of Earth’s water is in the seas and marshes — too salty to be potable. Or it is frozen solid, locked in ice.  Fresh surface and ground water, replaceable only by rain, represents a tiny fraction, only, unbelievably, 2.8% of the world’s total water supply! It was not much of an exaggeration for Coleridge to write “Water, water, everywhere. Nor any drop to drink.” A hard truth that is hitting home to millions of folks around the world.

Rain, the vital fluid, which flows down from the heavens to replenish the water stores, is quite quirky. You never know with rain. Too much, too little, too late, too soon, too hard. You can’t really depend on it. And yet you have to, since rain determines the growth of the crops and the grazing grasses, it is important to be able to make predictions in order to be able to plan.

Our earliest ancestors watched the skies carefully for clues as to what they might expect from the elements. Especially talented weather specialists emerged . Of all their considerable skills, the art of rainmaking reigned supreme. It is a great and honored person who can regulate the water supply and in so doing guarantee a fertile growing season.

Throughout Africa, the authority of tribal chiefs rested upon their proven capability as weather tellers; and their popularity depended on their success as weather intercessors. In ancient Mexico, the Aztec ruler swore at his coronation to be responsible for the sun shining, the clouds offering rain, the rivers flowing, and the earth offering up abundance. In old Egypt the priest-kings were blamed for crop failure. If the chief of the Latuka, who lived along the Upper Nile, failed to draw down rain, he was attacked by night, robbed, banished and sometimes killed.

The most common means for procuring precipitation is through imitative, homeopathic magic. That is, if you want rain, simulate rainfall. In Russian villages, when rain was needed, three men would climb up into fir trees. The first would bang on pots and pans, making thunder. The second would knock together firebrands and make lightening sparks. And the third, who was called the rainmaker, used a bunch of twigs to sprinkle water from a jug down to the ground.

A weather wizard in New Guinea makes showers by dipping a bough of a sacred tree into a vessel of water and shaking droplets all over. In times of drought, members of the Buffalo Society of the Omaha Peoples of North America, filled a large container with water which was then overturned, making the earth muddy, whereupon they all dropped down to drink the water from the ground and spray it from their mouths. This saves the wilting corn.

During prolonged dry spells in Java, two men would thrash each other until blood was drawn and flowed down their backs. The streaming blood represented rain. The people of Abyssinia used to engage in bloody conflicts — village against village — for weeks in the hopes of attracting a good downpour.

In 1893, a particularly gruesome blood-letting ritual for rain was proposed in an article printed in the Boston Globe. It was suggested that in the course of 12 hours of fighting, one soldier would sweat six gallons of wetness. Multiply that by 1000 young men and you have enough moisture to charge the atmosphere and force it to rain. It’s a good thing they didn’t try it, because it wouldn’t have worked anyway. It would take 33 million gallons of water for even a very small thunderstorm. As many as 100,000 soldiers perspiring together on the battlefield for a day could create only 600,000 gallons. Not nearly enough. All the bloodletting in all the hot spot wars today can’t make a even a tiny dent.

In recent times, we have become quite accomplished in weather modification. Today we know how to make it rain. And snow, as well, for that matter. Cloud seeding is as simple as sitting in the cabin of a small plane and tossing out hands full of finely ground ice crystals into the clouds. Hey, we even know how to make acid rain! What comes out of the clouds these days could kill you.

“Just a little rain.
Just a little rain.
What have they done to the rain?
–The Searchers 1969

***
Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.


APRIL

April is when we celebrate Mother Nature, Mother Earth and all Her creations and creatures. It is all about green growth and the April showers that nourishes it. 


I’ve seen several outrageous television commercials recently that blithely extol the benefits of throwaway dust rags and floor mops and disposable baby bibs, of all things. Apparently the landfills are not yet filled to over-flowing capacity with Pampers as I had assumed.

Knowing myself to be a concerned citizen and certified Queen of Reducing, Re-using and Recycling, I feel morally indignant in the face of such crass waste. The mere sight of The New York Times Sunday Edition stacked in high piles at the newsstand fills me with queasy guilt. Heaven forbid I should buy one. Recycling a single run of the Sunday New York Times would save 75,000 trees. Times 52. Yikes!

As it is, the average American uses about 749 pounds of paper every year, which adds up to a whopping 187 billion pounds per year for the entire population, by far the largest per capita consumption rate of paper for any country in the world. I can’t find an exact statistic for how many trees per person we use each year for paper goods, wood products and newsprint, but it is estimated to be 7 trees for each of us. And that is not counting the meat we eat, which is raised on deforested land.

I take my own bags to the grocery store. I use cloth napkins and hankies and refuse to use paper towels, opting instead for sponges and rags. I print out proof sheets from my computer on the backside of discarded paper. When I used to drink coffee, I used the same paper bag day in and day out for café con leches-to-go, my record being 65 days worth of caffeine-carrying with one single bag.

All of this conservation is well and good, but what have I done lately? What did I do today? This is an important distinction: what did I do versus what did I not do. The issue is not how many trees did I save, but how many trees did I plant? I am 69 years old. That means that I should have planted 483 trees by now to replace those that I have used. While I have conducted quite a few tree-planting ceremonies over the years, I still owe Mother Earth a new orchard or two.

Maybe it is self-defeating to think that we should be giving up comforts and luxuries in order to be more environmentally correct and connected. Such negative terminology doesn’t make acting conscientiously seem like a very attractive prospect, but rather like some sort of deprivation that would appeal only to martyrs. That’s just bad psychology — completely unproductive, if you ask me. The medicine does not have to taste bad in order for it to work well.

Perhaps it is more fruitful to think not of giving something up, but rather of giving something back. It is the most elemental and universal rule of etiquette that if you take something, you replace it; if you use something, you replace it — plus some. While saving and conserving are admirable virtues to be commended and encouraged, being generous and proactively responsive is equally crucial to our survival, body and soul. Take less. Give more. I call that eco-response-ability.

It is pay back time!

So, let’s plant trees everywhere — in our gardens, on our terraces and roofs, inside our houses, throughout our parks and schoolyards. Even those of us who live in the most crowded cement cities can join a community garden or participate in a park clean-up and planting day.

We can “buy” acres of rainforest to give as gifts or have trees planted in honor of all the special occasions celebrated by friends and family. We could adopt a neighborhood or a stretch of highway and help take care of it.

We could take a page from Lady Bird Johnson, and like a brigade of green guerillas, spread out and scatter wildflower seeds in every vacant lot, strip mall and avenue median.

I hereby pledge to plant as many trees as I can this spring. Won’t you join me?
***
Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.