In a previous blog post I described the biblical creation story as a fairy tale. And while I hold that as a literary genera, that the description is absolutely correct, it nevertheless fails to fully grasp the defining influence that the story has had on Western culture. Calling it a fairy tale is not an attempt to trivialize it but only to properly categorize it as a literary work. Fairy tales, like any other literary genera, come in a variety of flavors. For example, some fairy tales are complete works of fiction. They are strictly for entertainment, both for children and for adults. Other tales are psychologically true. They incorporate mythical themes, dealing with deeply held emotional and psychological drives and complexes in imaginative ways, personifying them in human and animal characters and allowing the reader to work through his or her own issues in an objective way. Still other tales attempt to express or verbalize the ineffable. There are, by definition, no words to exactingly describe the ineffable therefore we address the ineffable though metaphor and in the creation story the vehicle used is magic.
I began that same previous post with the question: where do you find divinity? Yet, I never actually answered that question, but instead described where I don’t find it. I should add that I do literally believe in the existence of fairies but I do not literally believe the text of a fairy tale. But I also maintain that the creation fairy tale story while not literally true, is spiritually true. So, the question remains, where is the divinity and where is the magic in creation.
In that previous post I pretty much dismissed biblical creation as a fairy tale, an important and compelling tale, but a fairy tale nonetheless. And while that doesn’t absolutely preclude the idea of a father god in heaven, it opens up a more significant possibility. The idea of our father in heaven as the source of all life is an abstract idea, whereas for me, a more concrete notion is the more viable one. Forests do not grow down from the sky, they grow up from the ground as does all sustenance. The point is that the earth itself is the creative force and the only part of the universe that ultimately matters.
With that said, the sky also matters. Farmers have looked to the stars for millennia to know the best time to plant their various crops. The relative changes in the length of days and night through the course of the year, as well as the timing of the equinoxes and the solstices are all determined by the position the sun in the sky. Moreover, astrologers have used the relative and ever changing position of the sun, the moon and the planets against the fixed background of the stars to map out individual personalities and advise people how they might best respond to those situations that normatively come up in life. However, the map is a guide, it’s not the territory, and that’s the difference.
Specific details not withstanding, one of the primary lessons of the biblical creation story is that the source of all life is divine and I choose to take that lesson to heart. As the earth itself is the ultimate creative force and source of all life, attributing divinity to it is a legitimate and reasonable thing to do. At the same time as most folks, including yours truly, do not favor gender neutral terms for that which we consider divine, I think I shall follow in the footsteps of the poets and refer to her as Mother Earth since she is the mother of all living. She is the Goddess.
I will explore the major implication of that last notion in my next posting.