Every culture has connected women and the earth through art, literature, poetry, and song. While Father Time can be cruel and unforgiving, Mother Earth is generous and kind. Earth Goddesses and Mother Earth mythology have long been connected with fertility, planting and the harvest. In the Western zodiac, the earth sign Virgo is pictured with a bundle of wheat. The ancient Greeks and Romans honored many Earth gods and goddesses, the most well-known is Athena/Minerva, who was the goddess of agriculture, along with wisdom and war. Demeter/Ceres taught the Greeks to sow seed and reap rich harvests of wheat and barley.
The Roman goddess Flora ruled the flowers and the season of spring, while the goddess Terra personified the Earth. The Graces, also known as the Greek Charities, of joy, charm and and beauty returned to Earth every spring to bestow their gifts upon mortal women.
Norse mythology celebrated the harvest goddess Sif, along with Gefjon, who is the goddess of ploughing. In Norway, Sami mythology shares the story of Rana Niejta, the goddess of spring and fertility, who would warm the south-facing mountainsides to provide food for the reindeer. The Finnish goddess of the harvest, Rauni, was also kind to the Rowan trees, which provided protection from malevolent beings.
The ancient Egyptians worshiped Renenutat, the goddess of nourishment and the harvest, pictured with the head of a cobra. Sopdat, the goddess of fertility, wore a red dress and a star on her head, believed to be the star Sirius. Sirius would appear in the July sky, after which the Nile River would begin its flooding, providing water and nourishment for the parched Egyptian soil.
In Hindu mythology, the godess of the earth, Bhûmi, was often pictured with four arms, carrying a pomegranate, a water vessel, a bowl of healing herbs and vegetables. Phra Mae Thoran, also known as Sowathara, is a Buddhist goddess of water and the earth. You will often find her sculptures near fountains, twisting the water out of her long hair.
The Aztecs celebrated with Mayahuel, the goddess of the maguey plant of Mexico, an agave used to make tequila. Huixtocihuatl, the goddess of fertility, was also the goddess of salt and salt water. The Incans worshiped Sara Mama, the goddess of grain and maize, and a friend to the willow trees. Pachamama, translated as Mother Earth, or more accurately Mother World, was the goddess of planting and harvesting. She is also believed to cause earthquakes.
In Sumerian mythology, Nidaba is the goddess of writing, learning and the harvest. She is pictured with flowing hair, and a horned tiara with ears of corn and a crescent moon. In Africa, Mbaba Mwana Waresa is the Zulu goddess of agriculture. The ancient Celts celebrated Rosmerta, the goddess of fertility and abundance, like a cornucopia.
Kostroma is the East Slavic fertility goddess celebrated by burning a scarecrow during a town festival, to provide fertility to the soil. Zemes-mãte is the Latvian goddess of the earth. Dzydzilelya is the Polish goddess of love and fertility, much like the Roman goddess Venus.
These ancient earth goddesses have much in common, but celebrations of women and the earth are still around today. Catholics around the world celebrate the feast of Santa Lucia, or St. Lucy, by making special homemade pasta cooked without wheat flour called cuccia, and biscotti shaped like eyes.
Today, we can celebrate our own earth goddess traditions through a simple card design. To create the look of a sun-dried Tuscan wall, I used a thick Canson art paper and swirled it with Fresh Ink’s brilliant blendable colors in Fig, Red Currant, and Chamomile. The stamped images were heat embossed for a little extra dimension.
In praise of Mother Earth and Earth Goddesses across the globe, live you life in color!