From a young age, I loved nature and especially the deep beautiful forests in my native Sweden. Swedish lore was rich in nature creatures that in my imagination I was sure I often saw a glimpse of.
Trolls turned into large boulders before dawn after roaming the forests at night. I remember on a kindergarten forest outing, I boldly took a few fellow playmates deeper into the woods to find large boulders in the hope of being able to see them move…instead, we got lost and were later found by a couple who lived in the forest…but that is another story.
What I loved as a child was the feeling of earthiness and the smells of nature. In Spring the gorgeous spring flowers showed up after a long and dark winter and the smell of the thawing earth was bliss to me. Summer brought heavenly smells of Lilacs, mowed lawn, and the liberating feel of the earth under my bare feet. In Autumn we jumped through large orange and red leaf piles and the air began to smell of composting leaves and fungus. Winter brought fewer smells, but I remember the pine trees that seemed extra fragrant during the cold months.
What I didn’t understand then but was experiencing in childlike awe, was the element and qualities of Earth. The rhythm of the cyclical seasons, the smells that surrounded me and of course, Nature itself was of the Earth element.
As a teenager, I decided I loved nature and Earth so much I wanted to personally have a full experience of it. I began travelling and delighted in the diverse and rich fragrances of exotic spices, busy marketplaces, and the unique smells that different countries offered.
During long train rides or from the backs of trucks while hitchhiking, I was captured by landscapes so different to my native country. I never seemed to tire of seeing the diverse beauty of Earth unfolding before my eyes.
I craved Earth and many of its qualities. While travelling, I found people who seemed more connected to Earth and more grounded in their daily routines. They walked barefoot more. They squatted close to the earth while talking to each other. They often slept close to the ground. They seemed freer and moved their bodies with ease. They used many and varied herbs and spices, both for cooking and medicine.
Before I began to travel, I had already been deeply touched by the wisdom and the way of the Native American Indians. As a young teenager, I had bought the book Lyssna, Vite Man (Listen, White Man) by Lars Person, a Swedish author.
The book was full of insights and future visions for what was needed to live well on Earth. Reading the book had hit me like a tonne of bricks. I understood that to care for the Earth and to listen and respect Mother Nature was the true way to follow.
The book, that I still have after all these years, made me even more in love with Earth. I loved her so much I often lay directly on the ground on my belly just to be close to her. Before tattoos became a thing, I had a feather tattooed on my arm in order to never forget the wisdom of the Native American Indians and my love for the Earth.
As an element, Earth is the fifth and final one. The elements follow each other from potential to manifested form. All elements are birthed from Ether and held within the structures of Earth and transmitted through these structures to make the world we live in. The Earth element gives us our physical body and everything else of form.
The stabilizing influence of Earth holds everything together. In Ayurveda, Earth is ‘that which stabilizes and holds’. How ingenious is this play of elements? What is not to love about Earth’s ability to hold and make form to all that we need? The natural manifested forms are of immense beauty, bounty and diversity.
When I contemplated how the Earth element plays out in my own life, I began by looking at what Earth stands for. Keywords would be foundation, structure, stability, support. How do these qualities show up both physically and symbolically for me? As you read, you might want to imagine and visualize how those qualities play out in your life as well.
Being a born nomad, I spent most of my adult life moving or travelling from place to place. I seem to thrive with the movement. The security most people feel from being in stable employment or living in stable housing never seemed like an attractive goal for me. I did everything I could to avoid anything that looked or felt like structure.
I loved change and felt a need for change when something felt set and final. I still managed to work and thrive but chose casual or temp positions that felt open-ended. I dreaded routines and the daily grind, always wanting to spice things up and sprinkle magic into my days.
Looking at my life from a life inventory perspective, I can clearly see my love for the Earth, but the element of Earth has been strangely absent. If I see my life through a personal ecosystem lens, there is a lot I can do and have begun to do to ground my life without necessarily feeling trapped or bored. Take routines for example. I might not like the predictability of set routines but developing certain routines has been highly beneficial for me. I am more effective and get the things done that are important for me.
I take better care of my precious time. I procrastinate less. I have found I really treasure the structure that routines provide. The quality of Earth to hold is very real to me now, I feel held and nurtured by many of my routines. They support me in enjoying my life so much more. If I do them consciously, they provide purpose and meaning.
Understanding routines as being regular rhythms has helped me in approaching them more organically. My routines help me create structures that make my life so much more solid.
Being such an Air and Ether person, I fare well with the stabilizing force of Earth. I feel more grounded in the here and now. Being more rooted in the moment has made me able to manifest my ideas now instead of sometime in the future.
I used to lack solid foundations, the very basis of the Earth element, in my life. Now I am happy to have built some good ones that show up in different areas of my little mini cosmos. My marriage has a foundation of love and a commitment to love. The foundation for my relationship with my children is based on unconditional love. The foundation for my daily life is a connection to the sacred and in finding joy in the moment. The foundation of Devi Living is based on living on the planet in love, with purpose and in joy.
What about my relationship to Earth? I am very lucky to live on a five-acre bush block not far from Fremantle and the beautiful beaches of Western Australia. I get daily doses of being close to the earth. I walk barefoot a lot. I feel connected to the daily rhythms of sunrise and sunset and of the seasons that come and go. I make my own monthly calendar that begins on the New Moon and finishes on the Dark Moon. The natural cycles hold me and calm me so much better than if I follow the ruthless straight path of modern life.
Food is of Earth and having food on our table is having the Earth element present. The Earth element gives us strength and stamina. It builds and rebuilds the tissues in our bodies. I once read that overeating is eating too much Earth. The body then has too much raw materials to build tissue and will store it as fat. Protein, root vegetables, nuts and grains are rich in Earth.
A beautiful sacred practice is to make an offering of gratitude to Earth. I love gifting the people I love with appreciation and small tokens of how much they mean to me. It is easy to forget to show the same open display of love for Mama Earth. Gifting the earth as a thank you for everything I receive is a real heart opener and immediately brings beauty and joy into my life.
To walk around the garden in search of flowers to offer and maybe a beautiful piece of wood or rock is like embarking on a mini-adventure. I am suddenly in a more timeless space and already more connected. I sometimes get fragrant spices from my spice box and seeds and nuts from the pantry.
I put my gifts in a bundle of fabric or place them on a beautiful plate and offer them to Mama Earth in a special place in the garden. I talk to her as I would talk to my own mum, no need to be formal or feel awkward. Just me, as I am, connecting and saying thank you and hello. It is amazing how this simple act adds depth and dimension to my daily life.
Sometimes it even brings unexpected blessings, like the fifty or so threatened species of White-tailed Black Cockatoos who flew in and sat in the tree directly above my offering (pictured to the right) just shortly after I had placed it next to the tree. It was a rare sight and it felt truly magical to be gifted by their presence.
To make an Earth offering, just follow your heart. There is no right or wrong and you can be as creative as you like. Stay innocent and open and approach your gesture of appreciation and gratitude as you would for someone you love. If you don’t have a garden, you can still make an offering. Everyone has a windowsill, a balcony or a bit of space outside their front door. You can make a small offering in a park or place a flower in the ocean or in the river. Mama Earth is everywhere. You could make a habit of placing gifts for Her wherever you go.
For my offering I placed flowers, fruit, crystals, organic tea, pumpkin seeds, a sprig of Rosemary, spices and rice on a red golden plate and placed it under a beautiful Banksia tree.
Earth has many names. The Greek called it Gaia, the Romans named it Tellus meaning fertile soil. We call it Mother Earth, Mother Nature or the Creatress of all Life. Many deities and goddesses were connected to the Earth, like Yoruba Orisha who was the African patron of forests or the Celtic Abnoba who was the goddess of forests and rivers. The people of the Andes worshipped the Earth as Pachamama. The Native American Indians prayed and made offerings to Spider Grandmother. Nature worship was an expression of the deep connection to nature that was intimately felt and lived.
Trees are of the earth and play enormous roles in providing oxygen for the planet. Trees can store carbon for hundreds of years and are considered the world’s largest banks for the carbon we emit into the atmosphere. When we log old-growth forests and bush lands, we not only undermine and minimize their incredible wild, majestic beauty and the habitat they provide for so many of earth’s creatures, we also set off a destructive chain reaction.
From lost habitats affecting many animal species, erosion, rising water tables and the terrible loss of stored carbon which will ultimately return to the atmosphere, we cause massive destruction that ultimately shows our lack of connection with the Earth. Extensive mining triggers off similar chain reactions.
With this awareness, how can we live well on the Earth and respect and honour our home and all that it provides? And in your own life, how do the qualities of Earth and your connection to the Earth play out? I would love to hear from you!