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Women and the Land

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By Angela Minno

I’ve been thinking lately, and one idea I have dwelt on quite a bit is the connection between women and the land.

Not long ago (and in some places even now), women were seen merely as property, a form of wealth and resources. We generally like to think those days are in the past. All the women I know would be angry to be seen as merely an object for someone else to own, and yet I know we are still treated this way, even if it is more subtle.

How often are women still exploited, their beauty and sexuality used to market products, their presence used to assuage male egos, their more cheaply valued labor powering the global economy,  their time and effort used to raise children for indifferent baby daddies?

A couple of weeks ago I sat in a gathering of women coming together to honor the sacred feminine. Sitting in the circle of those powerful female beings, I suddenly saw the connection between women, wealth, and resources.

As much as we turn away from that, in the collective consciousness women still embody pleasure, beauty, nourishment, comfort, love, connection, life, and all the power of those good things.

And not only does this exist in the consciousness of men. All of us have been the newborn baby,  freshly entered into this world of survival and hardship, reaching out with our whole little being for love, warmth, and milk, without which we would die. Women still mean life itself and life is wealth, and wealth is resources.

At first I wasn’t sure how to feel about this idea, but I’ve been thinking that maybe the problem isn’t being a source/resource, maybe the problem is how resources are treated.  Maybe this should actually be an honor, a birthright of deep valuing.

There is clearly a human connection between women and the land, spelled out in myths from ancient times, from the Paps of Danu to the blood-thirsty monster that ripped the leg from Tezcatlipoca. The land is so often thought of as the body of a woman.

What does it mean, then, to see the land as only a piece of property to own, to do what you want with, ignoring the life and soul and connection to the rest of the world?

What does it mean when men think of women only as the money or time they’ve invested in them?

What does it mean to reap and reap and reap a field,  making the maximum amount of money and leaving behind a desertified wasteland?

What does it mean when women are seen only as the ones who have to bear the responsibilities of how they are used and objectified, and hold the burdens and consequences?

Are they timber, or are they trees? Or are they the plant beings who capture sun energy, powering all of human life and activity?

Are we just baby mamas, cheap labor, objects to project sexual desire, an alluring source of beauty?  Or are we nature and life itself embodied?

In the old, old myths, the laws of nature and the spirit of the land itself took on a female form. Deer Woman and her many incarnations across the globe took on those who exploited women and the land,  the toxic male energy, and punished them severely, often using their own disregard for women against them.

In Europe, she later took the form of Cerunos, the Horned One, who led the wild hunt and hunted down and slew those who violated the laws of nature and life.  Later this myth transformed into the Christian concept of the Devil,  still shown with horns and cloven feet,  who brought righteous justice against wrongdoers.

We seem to think that Deer Woman no longer exists, that she has evaporated into the mists of myth and story. We think that even as we struggle under the toxic burdens of environmental contaminates. We struggle with dirty air and dirty water,  demineralized food,  and the fatal uncertainty of climate change.  Civilizations only last as long as their top soil. I suspect that Deer Woman is still alive and we have only begun to feel her wrath.

In contrast, what would things be like if we honored pleasure, beauty, nourishment, love, connection, life, nature, and women?

Perhaps we would be committed to tending the relationships in our lives, rather than rushing around for material gain.

Maybe food would be nourishing instead of fast.

Maybe our actions could enrich the land instead of polluting, depleting and destroying it.

Maybe we could honor the roles of the hearth-tender, the life-giver.

Maybe we could be glad to see a mother nursing her child instead of offended.

Maybe our lives would be filled with green beauty instead of cement and exhaust fumes.

Maybe this would actually bring us the pleasure, wealth, love, nourishment, connection, beauty, and life we want and are trying to just take.

Maybe it’s not about taking less or using technology to take in a different way.

Maybe it’s about tending, giving,  loving, living, not taking.

Angela Minno has three children and strives to grow most of her family’s food on forty acres in Alachua, Florida. She raises goats, cattle, pigs chickens, ducks, turkeys, and geese and participates in seed saving and plant variety projects that help the community. She blogs about homesteading, sustainability, nature-connection, and food.