It has always been in the interest of the European man and woman to respect animals and nature. We have always had a deep relationship to the natural world around us. Our Gods and Goddesses, all having a bond with nature, had a great influence on the native peoples of Europe also helped to ensure even more respect towards other living things. Prior to Christianity, the European’s interconnection to the environment was a daily part of life. With the coming of the new religion, a message of dominion took over and we were ripped away from the living world.
It is known that various symbols of spirals and serpents have been found throughout indigenous European artifacts. Before Christianity, the serpent was not a symbol of evil or any devil. We had no devil. The symbol of the serpent was often associated with Pagan Gods and Goddesses and various legends and stories. The snake was known to be a symbol of healing and fertility. Ancient artifacts, carvings and even modern jewelry still worn today, depict spirals and interwoven designs. The snake was associated with Goddesses as far back as Greek/Roman mythology and is well known in Norse Paganism to be the World Serpent or “Jörmungandr”. Some might say that the very story of Adam and Eve discusses the separation of man, woman and nature through the Christian religion.
“The rejection of the spiritual power of nature can be seen in biblical stories that influenced the most basic thought of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In the book of Genesis there are two accounts of creation. The first tells that man and woman were created at the same time and are equal in their responsibility to care for the Garden of Eden; the second tells us that Eve was created from an insignificant rib. Traditional interpretations have tended to support the second, thereby linking negative ideas of women and nature. The story teaches the hierarchy of God over man, man over woman and nature. It shows us Eve’s weak will against the temptation of the serpent; her deceitful persuasion of Adam to eat the forbidden fruit and the expulsion of Adam, Eve and the serpent from the Garden of Eden.” -Nature’s Way
Perhaps there is a deep correlation between this story and the story of our very own people and their en masse fall from our most precious entity: mother earth. But throughout all of this manipulation, there still stood people who worshiped in secret, preserving our most valuable assets.
“Ironically, the serpent was one of the main religions of the Goddess religions that thrived in the centuries prior to the religion of the Hebrews. Prominent archaeologist Marija Gimbutas informs us that the snake and its abstract derivative, the spiral, are the dominant motifs of the art of Old Europe. Raine Eislar clarifies further:”Clearly the serpent was too important, too sacred and too ubiquitous a symbol of the power of the Goddesses to be ignored.”
By accepting the counsel of the serpent and tasting the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, Eve and Adam were initiated into the knowledge of the secret that “only the Gods knew” – the secret of creation in sexual and spiritual awareness. According to Merlin Stone, “In each area in which the Goddess was known and revered, she was extolled not only as the prophetess of great wisdom, closely identified with the serpent, but as the original creatoress and the patroness of sexual pleasures and reproduction as well.”
When the snake (the main symbol of the Goddesses) was thrown out of the Garden, so was the Goddess and ironically, so was nature herself!” -Nature’s Way
This obsession with separation of nature and humanity is not of European origin, yet we find ourselves bathed in the message of control over and of the working against nature. This has had severe consequences on ourselves and all living things. Studies prove that nature has a profound impact on human health and that spending time barefoot outside each day, exploring the Earth can help a variety of ailments like depression, for example. This separation of nature and mankind has caused what I would even call a spiritual death. How does one rip out a tree from the ground and then expect it to grow with no place to root itself? The animals have also paid a price. With little respect for all of creation, we spit in the faces of our most innocent little creatures from a beast as bold as the lion to a gentle spirit as small as a door mouse, we do not hold back in causing pain, suffering and death. Humanity has become disrespectful to animalkind while ironically, referring to our ancestors as their excuse for doing so. We worked with nature, not against it. That is the way we all survived. The deer, the hawk, the rabbit, dolphin and cat does not destroy its ecosystem. The planet itself has faced traumatic losses in the forms of littering, waste of resources, pollution, deforestation and so much more because without the connection with nature, we do not care to protect it. There is no PLANET B.
Women were also condemned particularly because of this creation tale. Let us remember that women were already respected and worked equally with men to survive in Pagan society. There was no need for corrupt movements like feminism. Women were mothers who were dignified and givers of life. The woman, the spirit of nurturing and compassion, helped plant the seeds, sew love into every piece of clothing, put her tender touch to crafting natural jewelry and had also invented the first cosmetics from using things like berries. Women protected the children and helped tend to the animals. Women were not shamed for breastfeeding and would even help breastfeed someone else’s child, had their mother perished. These things can also be noted in nature. The squirrel, for example has been seen adopting the young of other squirrels whose mother has died. Nature shows us all we need to know, just by observing.
“What does it matter whether it is a wife or a mother, it is Eve the temptress that we must beware of in any woman.” -Christian Church Father, Augustine (4th century)
Perhaps even the celebration of St. Patrick has some esoteric meaning behind “driving the snakes out of Ireland” as well. These are very important subjects to delve into as time passes. Surely we have all learned with self-researched education that not all is as it seems and most of what we were taught to be true is either false, has been manipulated in some way or has a secret connotation that we’re unaware of. It is not in our blood to disrespect the Earth or Earthlings and it is our job to protect our only home so that we may thrive and live in unity with life itself. That is the European way.
WAYS TO BOND WITH NATURE AND RESPECT THE EARTH:
- Begin to walk outside more often.
- Start working on a nature journal.
- Sketch or paint animals, flowers, trees and other living things you see outside.
- Open your windows in your house or drive with your windows down.
- Take an active role to care for animals.
- Eat a healthy diet of plant foods.
- Grow a garden.
- Pick up litter in your community.
- Start a compost to reduce waste or recycle.
- Read books about the earth and earth-based spirituality.
- Learn about your ancestors and the ways they communicated with nature.
- Begin to talk to the Gods and Goddesses daily and ask your ancestors for guidance.
- Exercise outdoors.
- Listen to Pagan music.
- Go camping.
- Go au naturel in a secluded natural area.
- Celebrate Pagan holidays outdoors when possible.
- Create natural arts and crafts.