It is 9 degree’s Fahrenheit today with a wind chill advisory of forty below. We are in the middle of winter as I write, and this is traditional storytelling time. I am reflecting on the theme for this issue of TRENDS, women and the environment.
When I clear the colonization from my mind a bit, I remember the stories. Stories handed down through generations that tell us of our origins. Stories of the unions from the sky nation that birthed the life on earth. I find a deeper truth to them now.
We, women, are the great granddaughters from the union of star nation and earth. Our “being” reflects that connection to earth and sky. We are water carriers. Our bodies, the tides within, respond to the call of the grandmother moon. We reflect the cycles that allow for the condition to create life. Our Mother earth shows by the very nature of our female life and death, we belong to each other.
As a young woman, I was honored to witness the ways in which our mother earth provided medicines for healing. I was privileged to be a part of the gathering of everything from mud for bee stings, cedar for ceremony, and plants I only know by their Ojibwe names. Collecting berries, harvesting, even hunting for food, gave gifts beyond the sustenance provided. The mother earth has been a constant. No matter where I am, there she is. She has offered comfort and advice along my journey as a human being. Sometimes, that can seem brutal, like watching wolves take the life of a deer. Then, I see how that same deer, feeds the four legged, the winged ones and the insect and plant nations. I learn the lesson of honoring the gift of a life by other earth inhabitants. There is sacredness in sacrifice.
As human children we often look to our human mothers and see if we can find some reflection there. Do we tilt our head in the same way, react in a similar fashion? Do we suffer from the same conditions? Do we have the same talents? It would make sense to look beyond our two-legged mother and see what is reflected in our relationship with earth. Do we not have seasons? Is there not a gestation period before spring birth? Do we not need our lungs to breathe? Do we not struggle when things are removed from our bodies? What happens when we get dehydrated? What happens in other life if there is no community?
The reflection we see as the results of our behaviors to our planet tells a hurtful story. Our mother has been used and abused and we have self- harmed in the process. If we are willing to rape and plunder the earth, we will rape and plunder the daughters and granddaughters, the women of the earth. It is no accident that we have such high rates of violence against women. As our forests disappear, it is not an accident that a disease carried in the air we breathe is a current affliction. Lungs of the planet. Our lungs. Still, we deny the connection in this interconnected web of life on this planet and beyond. Even now, at this most crucial of times, when we have done such huge harm, the earth, reflects her resilient motherhood. She stays present, as any mother would, for as long as she can, giving her very life, if necessary, for her sons and daughters. She will feed you, clothe you, shelter you until she can no more.
We do not honor that sacred circle of life. We ignore and vilify those that seek to protect the sacred circle of life. Ask the thousand women that are up on criminal charges for protecting the waterways. Ask the families of the murdered and missing women. Ask the grandmothers and grand daughters of the earth. They will tell you what needs to be done. Listen. Then, do it!