What Does The Fox Say? MOTHER NATURE
Every time I hear the words Mother Nature, it makes me cringe. Nature is so much more than a gender. Much like God is so much more than a white man with a beard. If people are annoyed at the patriarchic visualization of God, then they should also be annoyed at the matriachization of nature. The idea of assigning a gender to something that is so much bigger than ourselves is really stripping away the richness and complexity of those entities. This reminds me of something I wrote a while back about the place of nature in mythology. Egyptian mythology is really interesting because over the course of their reign, their gods go from visually abstract to human-centric.
One god at the beginning is represented by a circle and two lions on each side. A thousand years later, their gods have human bodies with animal heads. Another thousand years later and their gods now have human bodies and heads. The Greeks arrive and create this pantheon of gods in the image of mankind. You have Poseidon ruling the realm of the oceans, being carried any sea horses.
Nature is no more godlike. It has been tamed and reduced to a set of supporting characters. Now in both the Greek and Roman mythology, there is a god that isn’t fully human, Faunus, the Roman God of the forest, and Pan, the Greek God of hunting and music.
Both are a representation of the horned god, half-man, half-beast, with horns or antlers, a beard, and often the legs of a goat. In time, this mixture of nature and mankind becomes the image of the devil. Fast forward to monotheism which creates a structure where mankind rules the earth and nature is a simple basket of resources for us to exploits and manage. Not only have risen over the impurities and suffering of nature, but it is also us who can save it. The idea of saving the planet today is nothing different than Noah saving the animals with a giant Ark. The power dynamic is still the same. We are above everything. We are the shepherd and nature is this fragile and beautiful sheep that needs protection and saving. Which now brings me to the romantic concept of nature. On one side, we have the image of Man associated with either a ruling god that sits on a throne or the devil himself. And on the other side, we have the image of a woman associated with fertility and nature. Now, this is really simplified, there are books that go super deep in those analyses. In the 1970s the ecologist movement takes shape and we start using the word Gaia to illustrate the Earth as a living entity. The word comes from the Earth Goddess in Greek Mythology. Google Gaia and see the images it pulls.
Nature doesn’t have to have a gender, nor does God or the Devil. Nature is a life force above and around us. It is creation and destruction. It is chaos and harmony. It is pretty and ugly. It is Yin and Yang. We have this obsession in dividing everything into either being feminine or masculine. No wonder why our culture has become so tribal. Black or white, zeroes, and ones. As if one is either one or the other.
We have reduced everything to a simplicity that is totally unnatural. We have reduced the feminine gender to one of fertility and fragility, reduced nature to a romantic idea, a pretty picture on the wall where everything lives in perfect harmony where preys and predators live hand in hand, where life is fair and just, just like Marie who was pure and gave birth to Jesus, without a father, creating life by herself. I am not saying there isn’t something feminine in nature, absolutely there is. As much as there is something masculine. And that is the beauty of life. Nature is simply so much bigger than us. And much like God, it can’t be reduced to gender.