For those interested in Bolivia’s “The Law of Mother Earth,” reported on yesterday here at The Wild Hunt, there’s some special analysis and follow-up at the PNC’s “No Unsacred Place” blog. First off, geologist and environmental scientist Meical abAwen has provided a translation of the full document.
“Article 3. (Mother Earth) Mother Earth is the living dynamic system comprised of the inter-related, interdependent and complementary indivisible community of all life systems and living beings that share a common destiny. Mother Earth is considered to be sacred, as per the cosmologies of the nations of rural indigenous peoples.”
In addition, John Beckett and Alison Leigh Lilly provide some initial thoughts and commentary. Beckett, an engineer and OBOD Druid, notes that this law aligns well with indigenous, Pagan, and scientific worldviews.
“This law fits well within an indigenous worldview, and it is no coincidence that Bolivia’s Evo Morales is South America’s first indigenous president. Despite our tendency to romanticize them, indigenous cultures are not perfect. But people who live close to the land understand that the Earth is alive and that it must be respected. Some of that respect comes from gratitude, from the “blessings” (as this law describes natural resources) the Earth provides. Some of it comes from observing the power of the Earth – volcanoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, wild animals. When you understand that you aren’t the most powerful thing in the universe, you start to understand that the Earth should be respected and valued, and that it has rights of its own.
This law also fits well within a Pagan worldview. The Charge of the Goddess speaks of “I, who am the beauty of the green Earth and the white Moon among the Stars and the mysteries of the Waters” – many Pagans see the Earth as the body of the Goddess. Others acknowledge nature spirits and the Spirits of Nature. Still others worship Gaia or other goddesses specifically associated with the Earth. The common thread through all these beliefs and practices is the idea that the Earth is divine and sacred. And if the Earth is divine and sacred, then it has inherent value and rights.
Perhaps most importantly, this law fits well within a scientific worldview. Not a materialistic worldview, but a scientific worldview based on facts and observations of things as they really are. Science has shown that we weren’t placed on the Earth, we grew out of the Earth. We share the vast majority of our DNA with chimpanzees and bonobos, large amounts with other primates, much with other animals, and some with insects and plants. We may be the most intelligent and most industrious creatures in this world (whether we are the wisest is another question), but the differences between humans and other creatures is one of degree, not one of kind. They are – quite literally – our relatives, and we are all dependent on the Earth to sustain our lives. If we have inherent value and rights then so do they.”
Both commentaries are worth reading, and I’m told that more are on the way. This is an excellent opportunity to engage on this topic, and to get to know the participants of “No Unsacred Place.”