Thursday, February 3, 2011

Learning the elements: Earth

This post is a continuation of the "Learning the elements" series. The previous posts in the series are: Learning the elements: Fire
(After having this post in the draft form for a pretty long time, the blogger realises she needs to tie the loose ends and keep the promise of 'proactive' living she vowed for a few months back.)

It is interesting that, while the blogger has as her topic for this post, an element which is the epitome of solidity and structure in the layman's mind, it is this element that she finds most difficult to assess.   

Earth/ Tree of Life and Death
The first thing that crosses the mind is the gender-role attributed to this element. It is Mother Earth. Images/words that surely cross your mind are, possibly, in keeping with the idea of the mother being a care-giver. It is true, isn't it?

But, do we observe that earth bears life, and it bears death too?

From the obscurity of the soil, a new life, a sapling peeks into the world. A sapling that is nourished by the soil and that grows to have a  blooming life of its own. When the time comes for it to decay, it degenerates into the soil itself. What the soil gives birth to, it welcomes that back into its fold.

Earth is not a static element, it is a cycle. 

This beautiful  wall hanging, titled "Earth/Tree of Life and Death", made by Nina Paley (click here to visit her blog) captures the very essence of the idea of being the bearer of life and of death. The larger space of the craft captures the efficacy of being alive. The foliage of the tree, that spreads  in  the sky, is the virtue of life : the virtue of growth. The comparatively small portion showing the roots of this grand tree has a figure of a skeleton in foetal position, capturing the essence of death as part of a cycle. 

The blogger sees in this craft a strange flow - across the curve of the tree trunk, flowing along the curve of the root at the outermost edge and almost culminating in the curve of the spine of the skeleton. It seems the flow is not unidirectional. The flow encompasses movement and shifts from being convex to concave.

Elementally the earth is more than what we think of it. 
it is that of which
                          the mountains are made
it is that which lies
                          deep in sea beds
it is that which we till
                          in our farm backyards
it is that which we carry 
                          deep in our hearts

Special thanks to Nina for sharing this work of art with us. Visit this talented cartoonist's homepage here.