Spring is a time of awakening. As we collectively emerge from the deep slumberings and inward reflections of winter, we share in the blossoming abundance of the natural world of which we are an intrinsic part. From the violets and chickweed peeking through the grass, to the bees buzzing on the ever warming breeze, it is clear that we live on a planet that feeds, clothes, and nurtures us, providing all our needs. Do you feel it, the love of Mother Earth? Where do you feel abundant and what are you grateful for as you receive?
Although we live on an amazingly generous planet, we are inundated with messages of scarcity, greed and domination. At this time in our human experience, many feel a dire call for change. Our culture is deeply disconnected, leaving individuals isolated from their true selves, local communities and the living being that is Earth. We end up blind, numb and unaware of what love and beauty life offers. We feel the terror of our collective situation, and the powerlessness that it brings. In this terror, there is grasping, structural hoarding and systemic oppression. We adapt and live according to a collective cultural story of materialism, greed and competition.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) and Earth Awareness month. Is it a coincidence that these two topics are given the same month? I find it ironic because both women and Earth have historically been incredibly exploited. As we gender our ever benevolent host as “Mother,” so do we take away her rights and subdue her, as has been done to women for centuries.
To truly become aware, we must look at some hard truths: 91% of rape & sexual assault victims are female. Statistics show that 1 in 6 women in the US and 1 in 3 women worldwide experience sexual assault. Furthermore, it is believed that across the board, reporting is highly inaccurate due to shame and fear, and that as many as 1 in 2 women worldwide might actually be experiencing sexual assault. Only 2% of rapists are convicted and imprisoned in the US.
Mother Earth isn’t faring any better. Human’s endless drive for more, the insatiable longing for progress, expansion and conquest have all pushed the carrying capacity to the edge. It is estimated that between 30-80% of the world’s forests have been cut down in the name of progress. There are an estimated 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic waste in our oceans and 8.3 million tons more are discarded in its depths annually. Climate change and mass extinction loom ever closer on the horizon, direct results of our current lifestyles, the legacy our future ancestors have us to thank for.
The greed that rules the day, the hunger for power driving us as a species to do horrible things and deeply harm life seems to know no end, going so far as to use known toxins to grow our food in. We know these substances are doing harm, but the chemical corporations sell us the fertilizer, the GMO seeds, and the medicine to treat the cancer that their food system is causing. About 280 million pounds of glyphosate are applied to cropland annually in the US alone. Worldwide, 9.4 million tons of the chemical has been sprayed on fields. What is this practice doing to the planet, and to us?
In 2020, I was one of 2.3 million women worldwide who were diagnosed with breast cancer; 685,000 of them are now dead; and yet, I persist. In the US, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer–only slightly better odds than being raped; I happen to be a survivor of both of these travesties, so if this write up seems a little personal, it is.
We also see sacred waters desecrated, reproductive rights being taken by religious extremists, forests being clear cut and Forest Defenders being murdered to make way for “progress,” laws that illegalize LGBTQIA+ folks who are perceived as a threat to the patriarchal visions of those who should and should not exist. Collectively, our nervous systems integrate these experiences: whether we are the ones who quietly sit back and allow things to unfold, reaping the benefits; or we are the ones the system was designed to exploit and devour. Or, we feel caught in the middle, wanting to interrupt the violence and insanity, but unsure where and how to begin. We all navigate these systems and symptoms of fear, oppression and exploitation.
These statistics have got to change. Our lifeways have got to change. I know it’s hard to look at, but if April is Women’s and Earth’s awareness month, we need to face these realities. Humans are running amok on the planet; I believe that we are doing these things because of our deep disconnection from the natural world and meaningful lifeways. We must turn from our current course, realizing that we are destined to crash.
Let us collectively embrace the divine feminine, not as superior to the masculine; but as a long silenced and suppressed–but much needed and welcome–balancing other half. We all carry the seeds of both of these energetic ways. Let us collectively nurture the caring softness of the feminine, the abundance of the Mother. Let us no longer exploit women, or the planet; but learn to recognize both for what they truly are. A representation of the source of all life, embodiment of abundance, not to be plundered, but praised. To be nurtured and honored as the bearers of nourishment and sustainers of life.
May we find balance in ourselves and in our world systems, so that power and dominance are no longer treasured over tender love and mutual aid. May we explore the sacred boundaries around life, and bridge the separation in our souls that allows us to sit silently while this story of injustice continues to unfold. Let us stand shoulder to shoulder, raise our fists and shout “NO MORE! We shall stand for this no more.” Let us humbly, but insistently, reclaim our true natures and reunite with Earth, so that we can lovingly tend the garden once again.
This is my Equinox prayer.
Marissa Percoco | Executive Director