In the early 1970’s James Lovelock proposed the ‘Gaia’ hypothesis. He argued that earth is a dynamic self-regulating system where all life is interrelated, interacting through complex feedback loops. Life on earth is “a network of inseparable patterns of relationships” (Capra, 1975). Recent scientific discoveries support this view of ecological interdependence and nature as a unified whole. Our ancestors recognized this unity in their reverence of nature.
Jung saw our relationship with nature as fundamental to the development of consciousness and wholeness. “Our ancient contact with nature has gone and with it has gone a profound mental energy that this symbolic action supplied. Thunder is no longer the voice of an angry god . . . No river contains a spirit . . . no snake the embodiment of wisdom, no mountain cave the home of a great demon. No voices now speak to man from stones, plants and animals, nor does he speak to them thinking they can hear. His contact with nature has gone, and with it has gone the profound emotional energy that this symbolic connection supplied.” (Jung and Von Franz 1964, 85)
The exploitation of natural systems has destabilized the fundamental biochemistry of our planet, similar to the process in a human body when invaded by a virus. The Earth is a living system whose wellbeing depends on the health of its wetlands, forests, flowers, bees, rivers, mountains, seas, moon and sun. The sum total of our biology is connected to nature, to the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. Indeed, we are nature, in that we are microcosmic expressions of the complex web of life. Perceiving ourselves as separate from nature carelessly damages our planet, our home, our original mother – for ourselves and all future generations! The survival of our species is dependent on maintaining a healthy relationship with nature which is our ‘mother’ or ‘womb’ (the original meanings of the word ‘matrix’, from which the word ‘matter’ is derived).
Photo credit: Frida Kahlo
“The Love Embrace of the Universe, the Earth, Myself, Diego and Senor Xoloti”, 1949
A social media post I wrote for @jungsouthernafrica
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