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September 30th, 2004


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11:47 am - Experiences with a Goddess I don't believe in. . .
My first experience with the Earth Mother was when I was 13 years old. Dillard, an old man who taught the Indian Lore Merit Badge at the local Boy Scout summer camp introduced myself and a pair of close friends to her one day.

I'm not sure if he was trying to convert us, or whether he was simply trying to help us understand Native American beliefs, but part of the course involved a ritual.

Each of us took a friend (he allowed the three of us to remain together) and a large sheath knife. We went into the forest in silence until we came to the proper spot.

In that spot, we would take the knives and begin to dig. We would dig a hole, at least a foot wide and a foot deep, and we would place our hands inside it and re-cover anything that was under the ground level.

We were to remove our hands when we felt it was right.

Josh, Kris and I walked into the woods. Carrying our knives, we selected the spot. There was a clearing, not very large, that was within earshot of the lake and far enough back that the ground was high and moist, but not damp.

Silently, we began to dig. The broad blades of the knives bit into the earth, and we loosened up the dirt enough to begin digging with our hands. Very quickly, we were ready, and we all thrust our hands into the ground at once. For a moment, we sat there, and then I began to push the dirt back in, atop our hands. Josh and Kris followed suit. We packed the dirt around our hands, pushing and tamping and smoothing until everything was the same as before, except that our hands were in the ground.

We knelt there for a time. I closed my eyes for some of it, occasionally opening them to grin at one of my friends (even then, humour and play were a vital part of my religious experiences).

I felt the earth around me, felt nature everywhere. My hand reached down into the bosom of the earth, and there was a sudden and strong connection that I felt. Somewhere, deep within the core of the earth, there was a heartbeat.

The heartbeat grew and grew, eventually becoming a part of me, my own heart beating in time with the Earth Mother. I could feel my pulse in my hand, the veins pushing against the earth that was so tightly packed around it.

Josh was the first to withdraw his hand. He sat back, watching Kris and me as we continued to hold our place.

I watched a spider tentatively, inquisitively stroke my arm with his leg, and then decide to scuttle quickly across. I was aware of every movement, every step. As he landed safely on the other side, I realised that he meant me no harm, and I had not even considered harming him. Both of us were simply curious on one level, oblivious on the next.

I watched a few ants wander up my arm in search of food, and I smiled at them.

Kris removed his hand next.

Still I knelt, my hand thrust into Mother Earth. It was as if she held me there, but not as if either one of us sought to do anything against the other's will. I still felt her pulse, I still knew her warm embrace. It was vastly different than anything else I had ever experienced, and I reveled in the feeling.

Slowly, the heartbeat died away. The warmth of the earth gave way to the chill of the dirt and the impatience of friends. I withdrew my hand.

Upon returning to the workshop area, Dillard informed us that we had become brothers. We were ritually bound to one another through the earth.

Should we ever need to feel reconnected, we could always do the same ritual, wherever we might be.

Over the next few years, we renewed that bond often.
Current Mood: enthralled
Current Music: "Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season", -JB

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[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:September 30th, 2004 09:02 am (UTC)
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Just that. I don't believe in any goddess called the "Earth Mother".

Doesn't mean I can't have a real experience of her.

Hell, I have a real experience of her in every ADF rite I do, and in morning and evening devotionals, and quite often while hiking.

But she's not Celtic and she's not Eris, so she's outside my realm of "deities I believe in today".

Interestingly, there's a very persuasive argument that the Native Americans never had one, either, but that she's a result of contact with American/European settlers and soldiers.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:September 30th, 2004 09:43 am (UTC)
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I have a skewed vision of "truth", though. Truth for me is not necessarily truth for you. Truth in my world is that there is one pantheon of deities: the Celtic ones. Everyone else's deities "don't exist" to me. But most importantly, my truth does not cancel out your truth. They can exist very harmoniously.

Then again, when I'm being Discordian, Celtic deities don't exist, either. As a Discordian, I'm a monotheist.

In this case, I do not believe that the goddess "Mother Earth" exists. I'm willing to pay due worship to her, just as I am to Aphrodite, Ishtar, and Tara, and I can receive real experience from her, but my experience doesn't make her real.

Personally, I have less trouble believing in the divinity of Christ than in the Earth, but that's just me.

What I do believe is that the earth is something that nurtures us all, that protects us and provides for us. But I don't see the earth as a Goddess. I have no problem whatsoever saying "mother Earth" or "Earth Mother", but she's no goddess of mine.

When I work in ADF liturgy, I give up the non-belief for a while. I open to the Earth Mother goddess. I'm willing to accept that, for that sacred time, there is one, and that she needs to be honoured. This is exactly what I do for any other rite I attend, be it Wiccan, ecclectic, or even Greek. And it has lead to very powerful experiences.

I also don't believe in the Great Mother Goddess of Wiccan fame, but I've had some rather profound experieneces of her. I've had extremely vivid and profound experiences with the Antlered God of Wicca, and I don't think that particular deity is really useful as even an archetype (another thing I don't believe in but have been known to use).
[User Picture]
From:uberrod
Date:September 30th, 2004 04:31 pm (UTC)
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I much prefer the local River Goddess as my Grove's "Earth Mother." That's much more tangeable. You can see Her, feel Her, etc.

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