Would the Pope consider welcoming Mother Nature herself into the church a demonic gesture? Well, in October 2019, some conservative church leaders considered it just that, ironically praying to “Our Lady of Fatima” when Pachamama, the Earth Mother goddess, appeared in the Vatican gardens.
Pope Francis apologized after two men stole and threw what the Catholic News Agency called “controversial statues” in the Tiber River during an Amazonian synod.
They were identical carved wood statues of Pachamama, which the news agency noted translates roughly to “Mother Earth.” The Pope referred to the statues using the word “Pachamama.”
The Earth Mother statues were placed during a “tree-planting ceremony in the Vatican gardens” for the Bishops of the Amazon. Keep in mind, after the Spanish invaded, the goddess often became associated with the Virgin Mary.
Nevertheless, after the abrupt dunk in the river, someone fished the statues out, reportedly undamaged. Despite the incident, the Pope said he would include Pachamama in the closing Mass on October 27 as an “effigy of maternity and the sacredness of life.”
Critics of Mother Earth?
Reporting on the incident, The Guardian stated:
“A row over Amazonian’ Mother Earth’ statues, displayed during a prayer service in the pope’s gardens, is a depressing sign of the times.”
According to the report, “militant Catholic conservatives” considered statues of Mother Earth “pagan idols.” One Catholic leader defended throwing Mother Nature in the river:
“Cardinal Gerhard Müller defended the vandalism saying: ‘The great mistake was to bring the idols into the church, not to put them out.'”
Then, the Pope’s critics in the church called him “globalist” and the “first post-Christian pope.” Another American critic called it “mindless multiculturalism,”
“The baldly heretical Pan-Amazon Synod — its chief organizers favor woman priests, the abolition of priestly celibacy, and LGBT rights, among other stances — is itself a raised middle finger to Catholics,” wrote The American Spectator.
Ironically, the word “catholic” goes back to the Greek adjective καθολικός, translated as “universal,” The Guardian noted.
Video by catholicnewsagency:
Mother Earth and a Sacred Tree
Interestingly, one of the Vatican’s representatives drew a line between Pachamama and a sacred tree.
“Paolo Ruffini, head of the Vatican’s communications office, said last week that ‘fundamentally, it represents life. And enough. I believe to try and see pagan symbols or to see…evil, it is not,’ he said, adding that ‘it represents life through a woman.’
Then, he followed with the connection to a sacred tree.
He equated Pachamama to that of a tree, saying ‘a tree is a sacred symbol.'”
One anthropologist describes shrines to Mother Earth connected to “boles” or trunks of trees.
“Her shrines are hallowed rocks or the boles of legendary trees, and artists envision her as an adult female bearing harvests of potatoes and coca leaves. The four cosmological Quechua principles – Water, Earth, Sun, and Moon – claim Pachamama as their prime origin,” states Wikipedia.
All considered, it seems some in the Vatican know very well who the Earth goddess is. And yet today, she is still considered pagan and even demonic to some followers of the Catholic faith. It’s peculiar, to say the least.
Could it be that the divine feminine would be that threatening?
Mother Earth is Everywhere
In other parts of the world, the Earth Mother is known by many names. She’s everywhere but strangely considered heretical by some. Perhaps, that’s a large part of what’s wrong with today’s world as we teeter on environmental disasters. We have forgotten how we owe literally everything to Mother Nature.
Moreover, we may need to learn what the ancient mystics and Buddhists have known, that we ourselves are all part of Her. How would the world change if we realized the truth in the words by Thích Nhất Hạnh below?
“In Greek mythology, only Chaos precedes Gaia. Gaia was the Greek goddess of Earth, mother of all life, similar to the Roman Terra Mater (Mother Earth) reclining with a cornucopia, or the Andean Pachamama, the Hindu, Prithvi, ‘the Vast One,’ or the Hopi Kokyangwuti, Spider Grandmother, who with Sun god Tawa created Earth and its creatures,” reported Greenpeace.
The Temple of Hathor and King Solomon
In Egypt, Hathor is depicted as emerging from a white Sycamore tree. While Pachamama represents four cosmological principles, “Hathor of the Four Faces” faces four cardinal directions.
Notably, Smithsonian’s December 2021 issue featured a cover of King Solomon, discussing the Timna mines featuring a temple to Hathor. However, the “Egyptian goddess” is barely mentioned while finding evidence to back up the “Old Testament’s historical accuracy.” Does it seem like a pattern of resistance here?
A ‘Garbage Dump’ of Offerings to Hathor
For another example, recently, archaeologists found what they termed a huge ancient Egyptian “garbage dump” in a temple honoring the female Pharaoh Hatshepsut. The rubble had been overlooked by Swiss archaeologist Édouard Naville in the late 1800s and a 1920s American expedition.
However, LiveScience clarifies these are mounds of votive offerings to “special objects, like figurines, purposefully left for deities, religious leaders or establishments — that people in ancient Egypt gave to Hathor, the goddess of fertility.” Thus, they have importance.
“The new investigation found the votive offerings to Hathor include glazed ceramic, known as faience, and clay vessels; clay cow figurines; fragments of limestone and granite statues; small faience female figurines that are representations of Hathor; and various types of amulets,” writes Laura Geggel for LiveScience.
Nevertheless, Patryk Chudzik, the director of the Polish-Egyptian Archaeological and Conservation Expedition to the Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari, said:
“The deposit of votive offerings to Hathor discovered in this tomb indicates that this part of Hatshepsut’s temple was not used for worship and was treated as a place to dump rubbish.”
Going further, he says there were so many offerings to Hathor there was no room left inside the Middle Kingdom tomb. However, these are “preliminary conclusions,” pending further study.
“We suggest that sometimes there were so many offerings that there was no empty space for new objects, and that is why the priests from the Hatshepsut temple collected them from time to time and took them outside the temple area, making rubbish deposits.”
Pachamama and Pachatata – Equal Balanced Halves
To the people of the Andes, Pachamama is revered. So, too is Pacha, or Pachatata, “Earth Father,” or the father of the universe. Pachatata is also a representation of “Byra Cocha” or Viracocha, the Titicaca region’s god and father of the cosmos.
Importantly, Pachamama may be considered the balanced equal to the Earth Father in the Quechua language.
For example, you can see Yonny, a Uros guide who lives on the floating islands of Lake Titicaca, discuss this in the video below.
Here, we see that Pachatata is the “father of the cosmos,” while Pachamama is the “Mother of the Earth.”
“Pachataa and Pachamama represent duality, like Yin and Yang,” he says in the video by Journeyman Pictures below. It’s interesting to see the eastern concept described by one of the Uros, a people who have lived on Lake Titicaca since before the Inca. Their lineage traces back 3,7000 years at least.
Intriguingly, the origins of the Uros people are a mystery. When author Brien Foerster asked them himself, he said:
“We asked the people themselves and they didn’t really seem to know where they originally came from,” said Foerster.
On the other hand, it could be that these earliest stories are protected and hidden from the public. Certainly, it’s difficult to learn more about them as they live remotely apart from much technology, although that is changing. Who knows what invaluable insights could be saved before they are lost forever?
Video by Journeyman Pictures:
The Earth Mother and Lake Titicaca
Long ago, after the Inca arrived, the Uros took to the lake, building reed islands to stay free from the threats of the invaders. Today, they continue to live on the floating totora reeds.
When building a house, the two roof sections represent the man and the woman, joined together in equal importance and harmony.
On Amantaní Island, the highest island in the world, two hilly peaks represent Pachatata and Pachamama. There’s an ancient Inca temple at the top of both peaks. However, they are generally closed to the public except around the feast day around January 20.
According to one tourist’s experience, one must walk around the temple of Pachatata three times “to let go of all of your negative energies.” At Pachamama, there is reportedly an ancient temple that tourists aren’t allowed to visit.
By using coca leaves, they hope to attract Pachamama’s good graces.
“It’s a pact that we made with Pachamama, and we pay the price with coca,” explains another Uros man. “We throw it in the water. She receives it and allows us to go. We respect that every time. We ask the lake for permission. For me, it’s a sacred thing.”
Video: Pachamama Ceremony by Peru Shamans:
Giving Thanks to the Earth Mother
Meanwhile, in the Bolivian Andes, miners tell of Tio (uncle) Pachamama. To ensure their fortune, they must give homage to Tio like they give thanks to the Earth Mother, Pachamama. It brings to mind the ancient mines dedicated to the Egyptian goddess Hathor.
Near the sacred lake, the local people have lived since the dawn of time, predating the Inca cosmology and the Christian church by over a thousand years. Over time, they have also assimilated beliefs from the Inca and others.
“If you ask the locals, they’ll tell you that Lake Titicaca was the birthplace of the sun, and therefore the source of all life; a belief that was passed down from their Inca ancestors,” states Culture Trip.
The Pachamama Museum
In Argentina, the Earth Mother is the focus of the Pachamama Museum, focusing on the beliefs before the Christian era began. All the amazing work is by artist Héctor Cruz.
Included for your enjoyment: