Make Life a Mythic Journey
Our astronauts on the moon have…sent the earth soaring to heaven.
–—Joseph Campbell, Myths to Live By
My local U.S. post office is currently selling “Forever” stamps commemorating the space program, and I’ve been reading Joseph Campbell’s stirring essay, “The Moon Walk—the Outward Journey,” in his wonder-full book, Myths to Live By. Campbell’s thesis concerns the mythic meaning of that momentous achievement when the Apollo 11 astronauts became the first men to walk on the moon. The phrase that struck me was that “this Mother Earth of ours [emphasis added] will be [never] again seen…no nearer to any god than right now” (p. 244). And yet, despite the immense spirituality of seeing our Mother Earth from space, the question is how are we treating this feminine mother that nurtures all of us, who gives us our life, and only asks, as all mothers do, for love and respect in return.
Forty-three years later Mother Earth is under attack. She has a fever from global warming caused by painful oil drilling and destructive oil spilling, dangerous coal mining and dirty coal burning, and the endless Promethean fires that release lung-searing particles and gases that pollute her air and her water. Is this anyway to treat your mother?
Today is Earth Day, soon to be followed by Mothers’ Day, but as Henny Youngman said, Mother Earth just can’t get “any respect.” We are burning down the only house we’ll ever live in. Clearly, the consciousness-raising, myth-transforming aspect of that memorable day—July 20, 1969—that Joseph Campbell envisioned has yet to take hold. Instead, we hear cries of “drill baby drill” as if we were at a dental convention rather than a national political convention advocating more reckless, unregulated, harmful oil extraction.
And just as Mother Earth, the ultimate feminine, is under attack so are all women. The same patriarchal forces that control oil production, both its endless drilling and its endless wars—want to control women’s reproduction. They demand endless procreation on a planet already over-taxed—no birth control, no abortions. Sex slavery in all its forms encircles Mother Earth. The masculine Logos with its lust for power and gold foretells the Gotterdammerung of global warming and economic collapse unless the feminine Eros can mobilize to restore the balance.
April 22, 2012