By Tasha Friedman
Happy Pachamama Day!
“Pachamama” is the Quechua name for Mother Earth or Mother Nature, translating literally as “World Mother.” For many centuries in the Andes, the whole month of August was dedicated to the celebration of Mother Earth. The indigenous people of Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina maintain the ancient traditions with rituals and special offerings as “payment” to the Earth.
For farmers and people who live directly from the land, the interconnection is obvious. Nature exists as a unified whole, a web in which every element connects to every other point, and human beings can’t be separated from nature any more than you could take the clouds and put them in a jar.
For those of us who buy our groceries clean and packaged at the supermarket, it can be easier to forget that every bite of food that nourishes our bodies, which we depend on for life, grew directly from the Earth. This distance makes it even more important to consciously recognize the grace that provides us and our vulnerability in relation to the larger scale.
As we open in gratitude towards Mother Earth, we can look to our planet as an incredible example of unconditional love. The Earth continues to support and provide for us even though as a species we are actively en route to destroying all other forms of life. This kind of love is difficult to understand in human terms; it doesn’t make sense to the rational mind.
We are now living through the greatest mass extinction event since the end of the dinosaur age. This loss is also beyond the scale of the human mind. Every single day, more species of plants and animals disappear forever. Every day. Very likely, some are never even recorded by humanity; they exist only as negative space, an assumption based on the richness of biodiversity on Earth.
When a single tree in the Amazon is home to 10,000 species of insects, some of which may only exist in tiny pockets of the forest, who knows what is lost every time a tree is felled?
Every form of life is absolutely unique. The vision of unity that we find through spiritual insight does not erase the differences in form or render them meaningless. On the contrary, in this sacred mystery, all forms become even more precious, even more worthy of reverence and awe. The pain that comes from the dissolution of any form is somehow more poignant, even as in the recognition of that which is beyond form, that pain is held in love, peace, and acceptance.
Yet, at the same time, as human beings, we can have the humbleness to recognize that life is stronger than us. Life (another word for love) is stronger than anything. The essence of life is the essence of everything, and that can never be harmed or destroyed or touched in any way.
No matter where scientists look, they find life, even in environments that by all rights should be far too hostile to support living beings. Organisms thrive in the depths of the sea, the most barren deserts and frozen wastelands, even in the mineral soup of the Dead Sea.
A tiny sprout of grass can split concrete with its roots. Life has such an intense desire to live, that pure force of will by which God manifests the whole reality out of itself.
Today and every day, may you find a chance to walk barefoot, to dig your toes into the miracle of existence, giving thanks to the Earth from which your body is made and to the Consciousness that gives it life.