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Mother Nature (sometimes known as Mother Earth) is a common personification of nature that focuses on the life-giving and nurturing features of nature by embodying it in the form of the mother. Images of women representing mother earth, and mother nature, are timeless. In prehistoric times, goddesses were worshipped for their association with fertility, fecundity, and agricultural bounty. Priestesses held dominion over aspects of Incan, Algonquin, Assyrian, Babylonian, Slavonic, Roman, Greek, Indian, and Iroquoian religions in the millennia prior to the inception of patriarchal religions.

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Western tradition History

The word nature comes from the Latin word, natura, meaning birth or character (see nature (innate)). In English its first recorded use, in the sense of the entirety of the phenomena of the world, was very late in history in 1662; however natura, and the personification of Mother Nature, was widely popular in the Middle Ages and can be traced to Ancient Greece in origin; though Earth or Eorthe in the Old English period may have been personified as a goddess. Likewise the Norse also had a goddess called Jord Earth. The pre-Socratic philosophers of Greece had invented nature when they abstracted the entirety of phenomena of the world into a single name and spoken of as a single object: physis. Later Greek thinkers such as Aristotle were not as entirely inclusive, excluding the stars and moon, the "supernatural", from nature. Thus from this Aristotelian view—nature existing inside a larger framework and not inclusive of everything—nature became a personified deity, and it is from this we have the origins of a mythological goddess nature. Later medieval Christian thinkers did not see nature as inclusive of everything, but thought that she was created by God, her place lay on earth, below the heavens and moon. Nature lay somewhere in the middle, with agents above her (angels) and below her (demons and hell). For the medieval mind she was only a personification, not a goddess. The modern concept of nature, all inclusive of all phenomenon, has returned to its original pre-Socratic roots, no longer a personification or deity except in a rhetorical sense, a bow to her illustrious traditions.

Greek myth

Aion (Uranus), Gaia and four children

Specifically in Greek mythology, the myth of Demeter and Persephone tells the story of a mother who discovers that her daughter has been abducted by Hades, who drags Persephone into the underworld with him. Demeter, goddess of the harvest, whose name originally meant 'earth mother', wreaked revenge upon the earth by refusing to provide any crops, so that the "entire human race [would] have perished of cruel, biting hunger if Zeus had not been concerned" (Larousse 152). She would not permit the earth to bear fruit until she saw her daughter again, and so Hades was forced by Zeus to allow Persephone to live with her mother, but while Persephone had lived in the Underworld, she had been forced to eat seeds of the pomegranate, the food of the dead. When Hermes came to take Persephone back to her mother Hades argued that she had tasted the fruit of the dead, therefore, must remain with him and be queen of the underworld. Zeus made a deal with Hades, for every seed that Persephone ate she would have to stay for a month in the Underworld with Hades; the other months she would remain with her mother. She had eaten six pomegranate seeds and had to spend six months with Hades - six months that represent fall and winter. However, the price humankind pays, according to the myth, is that when autumn winds arrive, and the earth hardens and becomes covered in snow and frost, Demeter is without her daughter, and allows no fecundity or growth; in contrast, the spring and summer months are those of rejoicing, flowers in bloom, and the beginning of months of warmth and fertility.

In this Greek myth, Demeter, the earth mother, has the power to deny humankind fruits of the harvest. A mother so powerful and so vengeful is an ambivalent figure in myth and history. The metaphor of mother nature continues to permeate the imagination of painters and writers, whose perceptions shape their audiences' images of, and beliefs about, mother, nature and women in general..

Indigenous peoples of the Americas

Algonquin legend says that "beneath the clouds lives the Earth-Mother from whom is derived the Water of Life, who at her bosom feeds plants, animals and human" (Larousse 428). (8) She is also known as Nokomis, the Grandmother.

In Inca mythology, Mama Pacha or Pachamama is a fertility goddess who presides over planting and harvesting. Pachamama is usually translated as "Mother Earth" but a more literal translation would be "Mother Universe" (in Aymara and Quechua mama = mother / pacha = world, space-time or the universe) [1]. Pachamama and her husband, Inti are the most benevolent deities and are worshiped in parts of the Andean mountain ranges, also known as Tawantinsuyu (stretching from present day Ecuador to Chile and Argentina).

See also

References

  1. ^ Lira, Jorge A., 1944 Diccionario Kkechuwa - Español. Tucumán, Argentina

Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

English

Proper noun

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Singular
Mother Nature

Plural
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Mother Nature

  1. A personification of nature as woman, stressing fertility and fecundity







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