A Celebration of Earth this Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is right around the corner and millions around the world will gather with family to celebrate Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 10th. Mother’s Day has been celebrated for over 100 years. The idea sprang from political activism and regard for service to country. In the 1850s a women’s organizer, Ann Reeves Jarvis, held Mother’s Day work clubs to improve sanitary conditions and to try lowering infant mortality by fighting disease and curbing milk contamination, according to historian Katharine Antolini of West Virginia Wesleyan College. The groups were also found tending to wounded soldiers during the U.S. Civil War from 1861 to 1865.

Anna Jarvis, founder of the modern version of Mother's Day, fought against the the commercialization of the holiday, working to protect it from "the hordes of money schemers." Photograph by Bettmann, Corbis
Anna Jarvis, founder of the modern version of Mother’s Day, fought against the the commercialization of the holiday, working to protect it from “the hordes of money schemers.”
Photograph by Bettmann, Corbis

After the war, Jarvis and other women organized Mother’s Friendship Day picnics and used pacifist strategies to bring former foes together. It was Julia Ward Howe, composer of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, who issued a widely read “Mother’s Day Proclamation” in 1870 calling for women to take an active political role in promoting peace. Ultimately, it was Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis, who organized the first Mother’s Day observances in 1908 as a way to remember her own mother. Her desire was,  “a celebration of the best mother you’ve ever known – your mother – as a son or a daughter,” rather than a celebration of all mothers.

In remembering Mother’s Day, consider remembrance of an amazing and enduring mother we have known all our lives – the Earth. This Mother’s Day, consider a celebration of Earth as mother and home in the universe.

Gaia

GAIA (or Gaea) was the Protogenos (primeval divinity) of earth, one of the primal elements who first emerged at the dawn of creation, along with air, sea and sky. She was the great mother of all : the heavenly gods were descended from her union with Ouranos (the sky), the sea-gods from her union with Pontos (the sea), the Gigantes from her mating with Tartaros (the hell-pit) and mortal creatures were sprung or born from her earthy flesh.

In myth Gaia appears as the prime opponent of the heavenly gods. First she rebelled against her husband Ouranos (Sky) who had imprisoned her sons in her womb. Then later, when her son Kronos defied her by imprisoning these same sons, she assisted Zeus in his overthrow of the Titan. Finally she came into conflict with Zeus, angered with him for the binding of her Titan-sons in the pit of Tartaros. In her opposition she first produced the tribe of Gigantes and later the monster Typhoeus to dethrone him, but both failed in both attempts.

Things to do for Mother’s Day…to honor Mother Earth

Plant a tree or garden

Since spring is a time of rejuvenation, it’s a perfect time to plan a garden or tree, native to your area. Contacting your local garden center to learn more about native plants that thrive in your region, consider a garden with plants that support life such as butterflies, humming birds or bees. By adding these plants it helps support wildlife along with support of the Earth in her cycle. There is information about organic gardening or xeriscaping tricks that are relative to your area. Spending time together gathering your materials, preparing the location and working the soil can be a team effort and build that bond between family and Earth.

Example of a garden created to support bees.
Example of a garden created to support bees.

Take a walk

There are many wonderful nature walks, and forests here in Southern California where you can reconnect with nature. You can also find information on the wonderful parks in through OCParks.com.  Observing nature, learning about the habitat in Southern California, and the flora and fauna can give you new appreciation for the delicate balance that exists.

Lastly, consider the following after spending time blending with the Earth.  A Homeric Hymn XXX to Gaea (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th – 4th B.C.) :

“To Gaia (Earth) the Mother of All. I will sing of well-founded Gaia (Earth), mother of all, eldest of all beings. She feeds all the creatures that are in the worlds, all that go upon the goodly land, and all that are in the paths of the seas, and all that fly: all these are fed of her store. Through you, O queen, men are blessed in their children and blessed in their harvests, and to you it belongs to give means of life to mortal men and to take it away. Happy is the man whom you delight to honor! He has all things abundantly: his fruitful land is laden with corn, his pastures are covered with cattle, and his house is filled with good things. Such men rule orderly in their cities of fair women: great riches and wealth follow them: their sons exult with ever fresh delight, and their daughters in flower-laden bands play and skip merrily over the soft flowers of the field. Thus is it with those whom you honor O holy goddess (semne thea), bountiful spirit (aphthone daimon). Hail, Mother of the gods (theon mater), wife of starry Ouranos (Heaven); freely bestow upon me for this my song substance that cheers the heart!”

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