By: Carl Teichrib
“More than 6 million Canadians join 500 million people in over 180 countries in staging events and projects to address local environmental issues. Nearly every school child in Canada takes part in an Earth Day activity.” – Earth Day Canada
“Earth is more than just a spaceship. She is our Mother. She gave us life. There is nowhere else to go but to stay and love her.” – Reader’s comment regarding John Kerry’s Earth Day blog.
Just as in olden days, the Earth has become the focal point for worship. In Grecian times the supreme Earth deity was Gaia, also known as the Universal Mother. Sacred oaths were given in her name, and worshippers performed rituals in her honour. One commentator tells us,
“The classic artistic representation of Gaia is a woman emerging breast-high from the earth. The goddess arises but never leaves her planetary body. Visceral rites, including plant, animal, and (presumably ecstatic) human sacrifice as well as unabashed sexual ceremonies were held to adore the goddess’s fecundity.”
In our contemporary era, Earth Day has become the modern celebration of Gaia. Partakers of this event, whether aware of it or not, play off the ancient pagan beliefs of a Universal Mother. Like the sacred oaths taken in her name, today’s Earth Day celebrants sign environmental petitions, make pledges, and announce resolutions in support of Mother Earth. And like the old sacrifices to the deity, today’s Earth Day practitioners offer sacrifices of “good works” to the planet. Not only is the Earth a deity to be venerated, but the Earth itself – as the representative and embodiment of the Goddess – has become a modern day idol.
Do all who engage in Earth Day festivities realize the connections between this event and the ancient pagan deity? Some do, especially those who take a neo-pagan position, but many are unaware, thinking it’s a family-oriented way to engage in environmental conservation (much good is done during Earth Day, such as cleaning up stream beds or planting trees – but that’s not the issue). Motivated by good intentions, scores of individuals (including professing Christians), participate without ever considering what Earth Day is actually about or the philosophies that underpin the movement.
James Coburn, the American actor (deceased in 2002), understood the overt pagan linkages. Consider his 1990 interview with journalist Caryl Matrisciana during the Malibu Beach, Earth Day festival.
“Mr. Coburn, why should we care about Earth Day or Mother Earth?”
“Mother Earth is our Mother! She’s the Mother Goddess. She’s the one that we should be praising rather than raping.
I mean all of these people here today are here for one reason: Because they’re concerned about what’s happening to the Earth – what Mankind is doing to the Earth. I mean the negative emotions we carry around, a lot of us, is another contributor to it; it feeds the Moon. [Author’s Note: the Moon is significant in pagan circles.]
What we have to do is be true to ourselves, if we’re true to ourselves we’ll be true to Mother Earth. Mother Earth’s going to be bountiful; she’s going to give us everything we need. She has for a long time.
We’ve lost our way. The pagans used to know how to do it. And the Indians, some of them still remember how to do it.
The Earth is a living organism. We’re killing the one we love the most, and she loves us. We’ve got to praise our Mother Goddess!”
When Earth Day was first inaugurated in 1970, Newsweek called the event “a bizarre nationwide rain dance.” The New York Times, however, said it was an idea “whose time has come because life is running out.” Earth, and the race of mankind, needed to be saved “from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.”
Now, almost forty years later, corporate sponsorships pay for community Earth Day events. Federal and local governments spend tax dollars in promotion of April 22nd, and a myriad of grassroots organizations add energy to the cause. It’s an event that captures the attention of local and national media outlets, politicians of every stripe, and fuels the imagination of school children everywhere. From the automotive giant Toyota to every urban center in North America, from the United Nations to the National Council of Churches – Earth Day is far more than a bizarre rain dance; it’s a platform for global citizenship and Earth loyalties.