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Book Excerpts When the Earth is Our Lover

A Taste of Charles Eisenstein’s “The Ecosexual Awakening”


Charles Eisenstein’s

“The Ecosexual Awakening”


Charles_EisensteinIt might seem that Earth has been an over-indulgent parent, giving and giving past its capacity and letting its youngest child trample all over it, to the point where its own survival is in doubt. On the other hand, perhaps Earth is wiser than we know, and this is the normal maturation process for an intelligent species such as ours. Either way, it is clear that we are finally hitting some limits. Our childlike innocence is coming, painfully, to an end, as we face the consequences of our despoliation of the earth and the necessity of no longer taking at will.

The ecosexual awakening is a direct response to hitting these limits, the waning age of abundance and the ending of our civilization’s childlike relationship to the Earth. We face the necessity of treating Earth not as a mother – a boundless provider of all we need and want – but as a lover, with whom we give and receive in equal measure. Well, maybe not “equal” – how could we ever give to the planet as much as we receive from it? What is important is that our society always consider Earth’s well-being in its choices, that our giving and receiving are in balance. And the prerequisite for this is to see the subjectivity of the planet, which industrial civilization is awakening to just as it dawns on a child that other people have feelings too; that they are “selves” just as I am.

To treat Earth as a lover rather than a mother requires that our species transition into adulthood. The very fact that we are, as a civilization, falling in love with the planet indicates that this transition is nigh. Falling in love is a major landmark in the life of an adolescent; it is a new kind of love relationship in which one desires to give something to one’s sweetheart and maybe, in time, to create something together, like a family. (Of course, it is also a very ancient relationship. When I speak of “we” here, I am referring to civilization, and especially industrial civilization.)

The rise of the environmental movement marked industrial civilization’s falling in love with Earth. Of course there were environmentalists before the 1960s, but they called themselves “conservationists,” still viewing nature as something subordinate to man. It wasn’t until the 1960s, with books like Silent Spring, that the environmental movement erupted into mass consciousness, and it was a movement of love. Rachel Carson’s description of the thinning of raptor eggshells didn’t incite fear in the reader, but grief. It wasn’t, “What will happen to us if those birds die?” It appealed most strongly to love, and awakened it in millions.

Further catalyzing the ecosexual awakening were the first photographs of Earth taken from outer space. First appearing in 1972, they pierced our hearts with our planet’s breathtaking beauty and seeming fragility. For many it was the first time they’d seen the planet without borders drawn on it. An even more profound consequence of these photos is that they compelled us to relate to Earth as a distinct, integral being; before then, it had always environed us, contained us. Having never seen it from the outside, it could not be an object of the lover’s love. For us to relate to Earth as lover we needed an external vantage point from which the planet could become the object of adoration.

. . . . . . .

Could the story of Lover Earth be that new story for civilization? Returned from our journey of separation, we rejoin the tribe – the tribe of all life on Earth, the tribe of the living planet – and seek to contribute to the wellbeing of all. Initially, this contribution might be primarily to heal the damage wrought over the past centuries: to reverse climate change, rebuild the soil, heal the waters, green the deserts, and restore the forests. These are surely the first projects of the divine marriage between nature and a newly initiated humanity. Individuals who have already had an ecosexual awakening are creating the template for that marriage already.

3 replies on “A Taste of Charles Eisenstein’s “The Ecosexual Awakening””

I agree with most everything said here, Charles, except that I have difficulty seeing the earth as my lover. For one thing, the metaphor works fine for hetero men, but what about hetero women? I prefer thinking of Gaia as my mother … the idealized mother, full of unconditional love, tolerating our mischief and asking only that we play nice together. Now that we have matured enough to see what serious damage we’ve done, she asks that whatever we endeavor to do for the purpose of healing our mistakes, that we do it with love, or not at all. She will recover just fine, as she has recovered from meteor bombardments and radical climate changes in the past; it is we who will suffer from our abuses … we and the other animals, plants, oceans and life systems who depended on us to be good stewards of their world. Falling in love with the earth was a sacred, holy thing for me, not a sexual one, but since the most serious damage to the earth has been performed by men, perhaps the lover metaphor would help shift their projected female imagery from whore/slave/victim to something more worthy of cherishing. If that’s what’s needed, fine, please do see her that way. All she asks is that we do it with love, or not at all.

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