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Joseph Werner: Diana of Ephesus as allegory of Nature, c. 1680

Mother Nature (sometimes known as Mother Earth or the Earth Mother) is a personification of nature that focuses on the life-giving and nurturing aspects of nature by embodying it, in the form of a mother or mother goddess.

European concept traditions

Greek concept

The Mycenaean Greek: Ma-ka (transliterated as ma-ga), "Mother Gaia", written in Linear B syllabic script (13th or 12th century BC), is the earliest known instance of the concept of earth as a mother.[1]

Demeter would take the place of her grandmother, Gaia, and her mother, Rhea, as goddess of the earth in a time when humans and gods thought the activities of the heavens more sacred than those of earth.[2]

— Leeming, Creation Myths of the World: An Encyclopedia

Greek myth of the seasons

In Greek mythology, Persephone, daughter of Demeter (goddess of the harvest), was abducted by Hades (god of the dead), and taken to the underworld as his queen. The myth goes on to describe Demeter as so distraught that no crops would grow and the "entire human race [would] have perished of cruel, biting hunger if Zeus had not been concerned" (Larousse 152). According to myth, Zeus forced Hades to return Persephone to her mother, but while in the underworld, Persephone had eaten pomegranate seeds, the food of the dead and thus, she must then spend part of each year with Hades in the underworld. The myth continues that Demeter's grief for her daughter in the realm of the dead, was reflected in the barren winter months and her joy when Persephone returned was reflected in the bountiful summer months

Ancient Rome

Main article: Terra Mater

Roman Epicurean poet Lucretius opened his didactic poem De rerum natura by addressing Venus as a veritable mother of nature.[3] Lucretius used Venus as "a personified symbol for the generative aspect of nature".[4] This largely had to do with the nature of Lucretius' work, which presents a nontheistic understanding of the world that eschewed superstition.

Post-classical concept

The pre-Socratic philosophers abstracted the entirety of phenomena of the world as singular: physis, and this was inherited by Aristotle.[citation needed]

The word "nature" comes from the Latin word, "natura", meaning birth or character [see nature (philosophy)]. In English, its first recorded use (in the sense of the entirety of the phenomena of the world) was in 1266. "Natura" and the personification of Mother Nature were widely popular in the Middle Ages. As a concept, seated between the properly divine and the human, it can be traced to Ancient Greece, though Earth (or "Eorthe" in the Old English period) may have been personified as a goddess. The Norse also had a goddess called Jörð (Jord, or Erth).

Medieval Christian thinkers did not see nature as inclusive of everything, but thought that it had been created by God; earth lay below the unchanging heavens and moon. Nature lay somewhere in the center, with agents above her (angels), and below her (demons and hell).

Therefore mother nature became only a personification, not a goddess.

Mother Earth image, 17th century alchemical text, Atalanta Fugiens

Basque mythology

Amalur (sometimes Ama Lur or Ama Lurra[5]) was believed to be the goddess of the earth in the religion of the ancient Basque people.[6] She was described as the mother of Ekhi, the sun, and Ilazki, the moon. Her name meant "mother earth" or "mother land"; the 1968 Basque documentary Ama lur was a celebration of the Basque countryside.[7]

Indigenous peoples of America

Algonquian legend says that "beneath the clouds lives the Earth-Mother from whom is derived the Water of Life, who at her bosom feeds plants, animals and human" (Larousse 428). She is otherwise known as Nokomis, the Grandmother.

In Inca mythology, Mama Pacha or Pachamama was a fertility goddess who presided over planting and harvesting. Pachamama is usually translated as "Mother Earth" but a more literal translation would be "Mother Universe" (in Aymara and Quechua mama = mother / pacha = world, space-time or the universe).[8] It was believed that Pachamama and her husband, Inti, were the most benevolent deities and were worshiped in parts of the Andean mountain ranges (stretching from present day Ecuador to Chile and Argentina).

In her book Coateteleco, pueblo indígena de pescadores ("Coatetelco, indigenous fishing town", Cuernavaca, Morelos: Vettoretti, 2015), Teódula Alemán Cleto states, En nuestra cultura prehispánica el respeto y la fe a nuestra madre naturaleza fueron primordiales para vivir en plena armonía como seres humanos. ("In our [Mexican] prehispanic culture, respect and faith in our Mother Nature [emphasis added] were paramount to living in full harmony as human beings.")[9]

Southeast Asia

In the Mainland Southeast Asian countries of Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, earth (terra firma) is personified as Phra Mae Thorani, but is believed that her role in Buddhist mythology differs considerably from that of Mother Nature. In the Malay Archipelago, that role has been filled by Dewi Sri, The Rice-mother in the East Indies.

Popular culture

See also


  1. ^ "Palaeolexicon – The Linear B word ma-ka". Retrieved 7 November 2023.
  2. ^ Leeming, David Adams (2010). Creation Myths of the World: An Encyclopedia. Vol. 1 (2 (revised, illustrated) ed.). ABC-CLIO. p. 118. ISBN 978-1-59884-174-9.
  3. ^ Leonard, William Ellery (1916). "Proem – Lucr. 1.1". Perseus Project. Tufts University.
  4. ^ Catto, Bonnie A. (1988). "Venus and Natura in Lucretius: "De Rerum Natura" 1.1–23 and 2.167–174". The Classical Journal. 84 (2): 97–104. ISSN 0009-8353. JSTOR 3297566.
  5. ^ "Mitologia – Auñamendi Eusko Entziklopedia". (in Basque). Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  6. ^ Ortiz-Osés, Andrés (1985). Antropología simbólica vasca (in Spanish). Anthropos Editorial. ISBN 9788485887842.
  7. ^ Davies, Ann (13 April 2012). Spanish Spaces: Landscape, Space and Place in Contemporary Spanish Culture. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9781781387962.
  8. ^ Lira, Jorge A.; 1944; "Diccionario Kkechuwa – Español;" Tucumán, Argentina.
  9. ^ Alemán Cleto, Teódula (2015). Coateteleco, pueblo indígena de pescadores [Coatetelco, Indigena fishing town] (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Cuernavaca, Morelos.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  10. ^ "This Day in Quotes: "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature"". 3 December 2010.