Earth as a Symbol – General Overview
Earth – in the classical tradition, this is one of the “four elements” that make up, build, sustain life. At the same time, it is an allegory and a means of expression for a deeper meaning than physical existence (“native land”, “lying in the ground”, “leveling with the earth”). In many ancient conceptions of the world, the earth, the soil, fertility, cycles have always been deified in the form of a female goddess figure (Gaia in the Greeks, Tellus in the Romans, Nertus in the Old Germans, Pope in the Polynesians, etc.). It is rare to find a male hypostasis like Geb in the Egyptians.
In many myths around the world in cosmogony and the creation of the world, the ancients used clay as the basis for the creation of man from deities (African myths, biblical texts). Ancient Egypt in the myth of the ram-headed god Khnum, the material with which it is built is clay, in the epic of Gilgamesh, the protagonist created the first man of clay from the goddess Aruru, who was a capable potter.
In ancient teachings, the melancholic, the “black bile,” the autumn, and the spleen organ are attributed to the earth.
In the Middle Ages, the “pagan” text beginning with “Dea sancta Tellus” (“Holy Goddess Telus”) was corrected to Deo Sancto (“To the Holy God”), without any other changes.
“The living earth is the church. With the teaching of the apostles, it bears the fruit of righteousness, as they at the beginning proclaimed it to their disciples. And they should be fruitful trees according to the law of God, so that they do not permeate our debauchery or our adultery in their seeds, but produce children in order. “
According to St. Hildegard von Bingen, the clay-water soil was “boiled” to flesh and blood through the fire of the soul. Medieval texts are found limus with a German translation of the clay word “Lehm”. In another work, Hildegard von Bingen (“De operatione Dei“, “On the Works of God”), compares the church to the earth, as the soil and foundations of the institution, compares the apostles as a natural good product of the fertile land, and continues with the following:
“… They should be like grass from the greening freshness of life of true faith, grass that they have received in the seeds of God’s words. And they should be fruitful trees according to the law of God, so that neither depravity nor adultery may penetrate into their seeds, but they should create children in a proper way ”.
Allah sent His angels to bring earth with seven different colors. The earth refused to tear itself away until the angel of death fulfilled the command. After the deaths of the people, the land would receive its share back. Thus Allah created Adam, and from him came the various human races: white, black, brown, yellow, green, semi-black (Nubians) and red (“savage peoples”). Thus, the earth and the soil are symbolically represented in Islam.
The universe in the Chinese notion is described by the sky-earth connection (“tien-di”), at the four ends of the edges are depicted four trees / pillars (in the Maya “ceiba” or “kapok“), guarded; in the middle a world axis (axis mundi, lat.) or the world tree / tree of life. The four directions of the world are also present, but can also be perceived as five when one considers the environment and each element and direction is associated with color.
The earth is also presented as a divine sign, especially in earthquakes, which strengthened the belief in the intentions of the gods and required a ritual of atonement. The earth as an element is found in the symbols stone and rock, and the temples reproduce the ideal structure of the earth in an architectural transformation. The earth is also depicted geometrically with a square as a comparison to a rectangular box of carriage, over which the sky stood like a canopy with a round shape. The middle, the number two, the color yellow, the domestic animal cattle and the sweet taste are all attributes of the earth according to Chinese tradition.
“Dea Sancta Tellus”, a medieval pagan text translated as “Holy Goddess Telus”, was corrected to Deo Sancto, or “To the Holy God”. Prior to that, Telus was a revered creator goddess of “things of nature.” Depicted with the horns of plenty, the cult of it consisted of prayers for the creation of herbs (from the fertile Mother Earth), for kings and for the relief of suffering people.
In Greek, Hieros Gamos, in other words, “sacred marriage” between heaven and earth is a concept seen in all myths and cultures around the world. The cult of Demeter also includes hierogamy, which plays the role of heaven-earth and the fertility of Mother Earth.
“Hail, earth, mother of man, grow in the embrace of God, be filled with fruit, be of benefit to the people”Aeschylus, 525-456 BC
Goddesses of the Earth
- Gaia – personification of Earth, the World, everything in Nature.
- Cybele – Matar Kubileya/Kubeleya “Kubileya/Kubeleya Mother”, perhaps “Mountain Mother” is an Anatolian mother goddess; she may have a possible forerunner in the earliest neolithic at Çatalhöyük, where statues of plump women, sometimes sitting, have been found in excavations. Phrygia’s only known goddess, she was probably its national deity. Greek colonists in Asia Minor adopted and adapted her Phrygian cult and spread it to mainland Greece and to the more distant western Greek colonies around the 6th century BC.
- Demeter – goddess of the harvest and agriculture, presiding over grains and the fertility of the earth.
- Rhea – a Titan and a daughter of Cronos and Gaia – strongly associated with Gaia and Cybele. The Romans identified her with Magna Mater (their form of Cybele), and the Goddess Ops.
- Mat Zemlya – the Great Mother – watches over women taking birth. Mat Zemlya meaning “Mother Earth”, and her other name is Mokosh most probably meaning “wet” (mokry, мокра).
- Tellus – aka, Terra Mater – aka, Terra – literally “Mother Earth”.
- Ceres – goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships.
- Ops – Ops or Opis (Latin: “Plenty“) – fertility deity and earth goddess of Sabine origin.
- Houtu (Di Mu) – Hòutǔ (Chinese: 后土; literally: ‘Queen of the Earth’) or Hòutǔshén (后土神; ‘Goddess Queen of the Earth’), also Hòutǔ Niángniáng (in Chinese either 厚土娘娘; ‘Deep Earth Lady’ or 后土娘娘; ‘Earth Queen Lady’), otherwise called Dimǔ (地母; ‘Mother Earth’) or Dimǔ Niángniáng (地母娘娘; ‘Lady Mother Earth’), is the deity of deep earth and soil in Chinese religion and mythology.
- Sif – goddess associated with Earth, attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century.
- Jörð – mother of the thunder god Thor. In Old Norse her name is literally a common word for “earth”.