Saturday, February 5, 2011

Learning the elements: Earth (Concluding part)

While the symbol of the continuous cyclical order of things and life is addressed, in the previous post, there remains another part to this element that none will deny. The element of 'motherhood' bestowed upon this element is essentially feminine, or so it seems. The female body conceives and gives birth. Hence the association of the female nurturing self with this element is understandable.

Rewind to a time when life, as we remotely understand it, possibly began. 

From where did this unicellular organism evolve ? From the water, the scientists say. The birth of life happened in another element and the life of man is and was nurtured on land. The idea of the mother earth is, then, an evolutionary realisation.  Humans are terrestrial creatures and thus this element has gained motherhood. (We are yet to know of the possibility of human beings as amphibians).

It is an interesting experience for the blogger as she reviews the notion of the 'mother' earth. The image of 'Gaia', the spirit of the earth; the image of Sita; the fertility images since pre-historic times - all of these direct us to this singular realisation that, the human kind has attributed the role of the nurturer to earth since it has appeared to be the primal necessity for human existence.

Before the blogger had started scripting this series, this idea, the earth as the mother, seemed elemental to her. Now, as she writes and reads and delves more into the thoughts that made earth the 'mother', the blogger realises that, the 'mother-ing' of this element is more of a convention. It is done by humans seeking security in the psychological comfort that arises from bestowing this nurturing capacity to a singular element. For, imagine living without the other elements - without the knowledge of fire the human race couldn't have survived this long; without water a human being can supposedly survive for about 3 to 5 days on an average; without oxygen a normal human being survives for a few minutes only! The blogger is surprised at the conditioning of her logic that had yet undoubtedly made her believe that, earth is THE mother!! 

Captain Planet and the Planeteers
The blogger wishes to conclude the re-learning (if she may say so) of this element with reference to a cartoon series she devotedly watched during her early youth. This cartoon series was titled Captain Planet and the Planeteers. The spirit of the earth encapsulated in the character Gaia, bestows on five youths, across the five continents, with magical rings that can control the four elements, the fifth being the Heart, symbolising love and compassion. When the powers of the five rings are combined, a fantastical entity emerges - Captain Planet, whose power is derived from the sun.

As the blogger was writing this post, she was constantly reminded of this fantastical Captain, one 'born' (if the blogger may use that expression) from the combination of the varied elements of nature and from an element that the humans share with the natural world - the heart/love. The 'mother-ing' of the element earth becomes re-interpreted in this perspective. It appears that the elements, both individually and collectively, nurture human life in this strange celestial sphere whose 72 % is covered in water alone. The idea of the 'mother earth' is far from being gendered. It is possibly a metaphor for that part of the cycle in which we, humans, exist; the part of existence that we acknowledge as life. 

Images: "Mothering" - image of statue in Prague. by self. 2010.
"Captain Planet and the Planeteers" , the web.