One of my earliest memories was being ankle deep in mud every Thursday which was irrigation day when they diverted a nearby canal into our garden. My mother and father were avid gardeners and getting my hands dirty was part of my upbringing. But these days few people get their hands into our living earth. Earth is one of the four great alchemical elements so that is next here.
“Western alchemy makes use of the Hellenic elements. The symbols used for these are“:
Earth – downward pointing triangle with horizontal line across it 2/3rds way down
Water – downward pointing triangle
Air- upward pointing triangle with horizontal line 2/3rds way up
Fire- upward pointing triangle
If you put them all together you have what is called the Seal of Solomon (found on Israel’s flag) a 6 pointed triangle. These elements were the basis for early medicine too but they would be as they are the foundations of life. In the past the adepts were very aware of this. They sat on the ground in the sun, practising their yoga and breathed the air. Certainly they treasured and protected the water in which they immersed themselves. It is still vital for the would be adept to work with these elements but becoming rarer in the west which may be why we are not successful. So let us look at:
“Soil is a mixture of minerals, organic matter, gases, liquids, and countless organisms that together support life on Earth. Soil is a natural body called the pedosphere which has four important functions: it is a medium for plant growth; it is a means of water storage, supply and purification; it is a modifier of Earth’s atmosphere; it is a habitat for organisms; all of which, in turn, modify the soil.
Soil is called the “Skin of the Earth” and interfaces with its lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere. The term pedolith, used commonly to refer to the soil, literally translates ‘level stone’. Soil consists of a solid phase of minerals and organic matter, as well as a porous phase that holds gases and water. Accordingly, soils are often treated as a three-state system of solids, liquids, and gases.
Soil is a product of the influence of the climate, relief (elevation, orientation, and slope of terrain), organisms, and its parent materials (original minerals) interacting over time. Soil continually undergoes development by way of numerous physical, chemical and biological processes, which include weathering with associated erosion.
Most soils have a density between 1 and 2 g/cm3. Little of the soil of planet Earth is older than the Pleistocene and none is older than the Cenozoic, although fossilized soils are preserved from as far back as the Archean.” Wikipedia
For many years we have made our own compost here. We have big bins that allow some air in and put all our vegetable waste and garden clippings in them. Gradually over a year or so this breaks down into beautiful black soil helped by the many red worms that so love it. And the process is one of moulds and rotting that have created our habitat. Death provides the basis for life/resurrection and it is a cycle which one sees clearly in any garden. All over Britain now the Councils collect garden waste, even food waste from all our homes and compost it. This is saving the precious peat bogs from being stripped for compost by corporations.
The earth gods go back to our earliest beginnings and start with a Mother Goddess worshipped deep in caves where the small statuettes have been found from prehistoric times. These caves not only provided shelter and sanctuary but were seen as the vaginas of our planet. Early humans were more aware than we think in our modern prudery.
The Ancient Egyptian Earth deity was a god not a goddess. His mythology fills in some of the blanks between our prehistoric understandings and what we think now. Perhaps his name is where we get the word ‘god‘ from:
The oldest representation in a fragmentary relief of the god, was as an anthropomorphic bearded being accompanied by his name, and dating from king Djoser‘s reign, 3rd Dynasty, and was found in Heliopolis. In later times he could also be depicted as a ram, a bull or a crocodile (the latter in a vignette of the Book of the Dead of the lady Heryweben in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo).
Geb was frequently described mythologically as father of snakes (one of the names for snake was s3-t3 – “son of the earth”). In a Coffin Texts spell Geb was described as father of the snake Nehebkau. In mythology, Geb also often occurs as a primeval divine king of Egypt from whom his son Osiris and his grandson Horus inherited the land after many contendings with the disruptive god Set, brother and killer of Osiris. Geb could also be regarded as personified fertile earth and barren desert, the latter containing the dead or setting them free from their tombs, metaphorically described as “Geb opening his jaws”, or imprisoning those there not worthy to go to the fertile North-Eastern heavenly Field of Reeds. In the latter case, one of his otherworldly attributes was an ominous jackal-headed stave (called wsr.t) rising from the ground onto which enemies could be bound.
In the Heliopolitan Ennead (a group of nine gods created in the beginning by the one god Atum or Ra), Geb is the husband of Nut, the sky or visible daytime and nightly firmament, the son of the earlier primordial elements Tefnut (moisture) and Shu (’emptiness’), and the father to the four lesser gods of the system – Osiris, Seth, Isis and Nephthys. In this context, Geb was believed to have originally been engaged with Nut and had to be separated from her by Shu, god of the air. Consequently, in mythological depictions, Geb was shown as a man reclining, sometimes with his phallus still pointed towards Nut.
As time progressed, the deity became more associated with the habitable land of Egypt and also as one of its early rulers. As a chthonic deity he (like Min) became naturally associated with the underworld and with vegetation – barley being said to grow upon his ribs – and was depicted with plants and other green patches on his body.
His association with vegetation, and sometimes with the underworld and royalty brought Geb the occasional interpretation that he was the husband of Renenutet, a minor goddess of the harvest and also mythological caretaker (the meaning of her name is “nursing snake”) of the young king in the shape of a cobra, who herself could also be regarded as the mother of Nehebkau, a primeval snake god associated with the underworld. He is also equated by classical authors as the Greek Titan Cronus.
Ptah and Ra, creator deites, usually begin the list of divine ancestors. There is speculation between Shu and Geb and who was the first god-king of Egypt. The story of how Shu, Geb, and Nut were separated in order to create the cosmos is now being interpreted in more human terms; exposing the hostility and sexual jealousy. Between the father son jealously and Shu rebelling against the divine order, Geb challenges Shu’s leadership. Geb takes Shu’s mother, Tefnut, as his chief queen, separating Shu from his sister-wife. Just as Shu had previously done to him. In the book of the Heavenly Cow, it is implied that Geb is the heir of the departing sun god. After Geb passed on the throne to Osiris, his youngest son, he then took on a role of a judge in the Divine Tribunal of the gods.
Some Egyptologists, (specifically Jan Bergman, Terence Duquesne or Richard H. Wilkinson) have stated that Geb was associated with a mythological divine creator goose who had laid a world egg from which the sun and/or the world had sprung. This theory is assumed to be incorrect and to be a result of confusing the divine name “Geb” with that of a Whitefronted Goose (Anser albifrons), also called originally gb(b): “lame one, stumbler”.
This bird-sign is used only as a phonogram in order to spell the name of the god (H.te Velde, in: Lexikon der Aegyptologie II, lemma: Geb). An alternative ancient name for this goose species was trp meaning similarly ‘walk like a drunk’, ‘stumbler’. The Whitefronted Goose is never found as a cultic symbol or holy bird of Geb. The mythological creator ‘goose’ referred to above, was called Ngg wr “Great Honker” and always depicted as a Nilegoose/Foxgoose (Alopochen aegyptiacus) who ornithologically belongs to a separate genus and whose Egyptian name was smn, Coptic smon. A coloured vignet irrefutably depicts a Nile Goose with an opened beak (Ngg wr!) in a context of solar creation on a mythological papyrus dating from the 21st Dynasty.
Similar images of this divine bird are to be found on temple walls (Karnak, Deir el-Bahari), showing a scene of the king standing on a papyrus raft and ritually plucking papyrus for the Theban god Amun-Re-Kamutef. The latter Theban creator god could be embodied in a Nilegoose, but never in a Whitefronted Goose. In Underworld Books a diacritic goose-sign (most probably denoting then an Anser albifrons) was sometimes depicted on top of the head of a standing anonymous male anthropomorphic deity, pointing to Geb’s identity. Geb himself was never depicted as a Nile Goose, as later was Amun, called on some New Kingdom stelae explicitly: ‘Amun, the beautiful smn-goose (Nile Goose).
The only clear pictorial confusion between the hieroglyphs of a Whitefronted Goose (in the normal hieroglyphic spelling of the name Geb, often followed by the additional -b-sign) and a Nile Goose in the spelling of the name Geb occurs in the rock cut tomb of the provincial governor Sarenput II (12th Dynasty, Middle Kingdom) on the Qubba el-Hawa desert-ridge (opposite Aswan), namely on the left (southern) wall near the open doorway, in the first line of the brightly painted funerary offering formula. This confusion is to be compared with the frequent hacking out by Ekhnaton’s agents of the sign of the Pintail Duck (meaning ‘son’) in the royal title ‘Son of Re’, especially in Theban temples, where they confused the duck sign with that of a Nilegoose regarded as a form of the then forbidden god Amon.” Wikipedia
I must point out that this ‘god of snakes’ is also the god of earth worms without which humanity could not survive:
“In fact, as long ago as 1881 Charles Darwin wrote: “It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organized creatures.”…Darwin estimated that arable land contains up to 53,000 worms per acre (13/m2), but more recent research from Rothamsted Experimental Station has produced figures suggesting that even poor soil may support 250,000/acre (62/m2), whilst rich fertile farmland may have up to 1,750,000/acre (432/m2), meaning that the weight of earthworms beneath a farmer’s soil could be greater than that of the livestock upon its surface…..Earthworms form the base of many food chains. They are preyed upon by many species of birds (e.g. starlings, thrushes, gulls, crows, European robins and American robins), snakes, mammals (e.g. bears, foxes, hedgehogs, pigs, moles) and invertebrates (e.g. ground beetles and other beetles, snails, slugs). Earthworms have many internal parasites, including protozoa, platyhelminthes, and nematodes; they can be found in the worms’ blood, seminal vesicles, coelom, or intestine, or in their cocoons.
Nitrogenous fertilizers tend to create acidic conditions, which are fatal to the worms, and dead specimens are often found on the surface following the application of substances such as DDT, lime sulphur, and lead arsenate. In Australia, changes in farming practices such as the application of superphosphates on pastures and a switch from pastoral farming to arable farming had a devastating effect on populations of the giant Gippsland earthworm, leading to their classification as a protected species…..” Wikipedia
We need to make friends with our earth god but some of our corporate practices are destroying this deity and our planet, however much we deny this. As a boy I was born into a world full of tigers, wildlife, forest and clean oceans. The first atomic bombs had just been exploded and the radiation was known to be highly toxic but gradually Nature’s habitats were taken away for logging, farming and towns. Our oceans were drained of fish and polluted and our atmosphere poisoned. Now we find out why there is so much NO2 in it – the car manufacturers have been fibbing about emissions and anyway diesel engines are excused from the rigorous controls now imposed on petrol engines, yet the vast diesel engines in ships and lorries are the worst offenders. We could easily be using clean petrol engines with filtered exhausts but they think that would cost too much! Ozone has been destroyed, natural fertilization killed off. All this in the space of one lifetime – now quite out of control as the corporations govern us. So imagine how our earth god feels about us!
If you do not think that the Earth is a living, thinking organism now is the time to find out. Your eventual enlightenment depends upon it. So does the survival of the human. Do not expect our politicians and leaders to know such things as their careers are dependant upon the corporate beast that is at war with nature. This war is a mutually assured destruction but any scientist standing up saying this finds their career soon ended. That is where we are in the world history that stretches back so far. One lifetime’s worth of exploitation and ‘innovation’. We tend to think we are the intelligence in the universe and that galaxies are not intelligent at all even though they live for billions of years and have more working parts than humans who live a mere 70 years and rely on the networking, or humanity, to represent our real intelligence. Galaxies do think, do worry and will wipe us out if we do not change. We are not presently something they wish to see cultivated, but could be if we realised our real potential.
These elements that I wil write about – fire/sun, water and now earth are the basis for life and it is ‘life’ that we need to embrace and understand, then work endlessly to protect. Not just the life of the human but the life or the lower organisms that support us. As we were taught this in my schools it is not new knowledge however what you read about Geb above is the mythological equation with the war mankind has waged on our own Nature. If you are going to talk to Geb be aware of this. Everyone wants something from him, so few wish to help and protect him or have any plan that might enable that. But the enlightenment of the human would. Our corporations will not. They could but they will not as they are headless beasts intent on making money at all costs.
Hidden behind the shrub is our big compost bin but you can see the small one provided by our Council who now collect garden waste every two weeks and make their own compost.