Deep democracy of Mother Earth

leustig virgin of the apocolypse, 9/10/20, 2:10 PM, 8C, 8116x11387 (0+414), 150%, Repro 2.2 v2, 1/30 s, R101.9, G93.5, B113.7

The Guadalupe has appeared in my work for years. I don't know how many times she has made me paint her. Evolving from the sweet, protective Madre Morena I drew in Catechism to a force of nature erupting out of the earth with apocalyptic force, she wields retribution in one hand - and pours life-giving water from the other.

She towers above the landscape, cosmic winds and lightning crackle in her robe like thunder. At her feet women carry water as women do all over the world - water for agriculture, construction, livestock, household use. No matter what happens, earthquakes, wars, catastrophes, women carry the water - from China to Taos Pueblo to Africa to Peru. And under her feet, she crushes the black snake. See the little red fawn on the left? See the layers of stories?

It is no exaggeration to say we are now living in a real-life apocalypse. Like a global volcano, Mother Nature has exploded and our public and private landscapes are dominated by forces we can't control and don't understand. From our political systems to the lifestyle we know, down to the personal psyches of everyone alive, a long-standing trajectory of development has been radically changed.

The impact will reverberate around the world for generations and the profundity of the changes have not even begun to dawn on us. The bubonic plague ended feudalism, La Corona and the aftermath will end capitalism and patriarchy and possibly even the human race. The fatal blows have already fallen, the death throes are shaking the world and the system is doomed.

The medicine I take to escape from the collapse of Western civilization is to paint. Jung continually refers to the idea that artists are compelled to express the ideas and meaning of their times. Kurt Vonnegut says artists are like the canaries in the mines that warn of poisonous gasses. In "Art and Physics," Leonard Schlain shows countless examples of art from Giotto to Picasso that unconsciously anticipate or paraphrase the scientific discoveries of their times.

If you ask creative people they will confess they make art because they can't stop, and that often they themselves are surprised at what comes out. I used to think all my images, ideas and narratives were in my head, but then I realized that I have holes in my head and they are really windows into what Jung would call the collective unconscious. It's not so much that I paint what I see through those windows as that I paint what comes in through them.

The earth was the first divine entity humans worshiped - the Great Mother, the giver of all life, She - who can take a tiny seed and make a giant tree. Mother Earth is not a capitalist. Her economic system is based on radical democracy and includes all life as one family of relatives. Her laws nourish and protect the whole ecology, all her children.

And she emerges in my work over and over again, whether as Aztec goddesses, any of the Virgin's incarnations, a dancer choreographing the energy of an atom. To me this image signifies the deep democracy of nature. I even believe in deep inner democracy - in which all the parts of the self, your secrets, the parts your parents punished, the hurt parts - are also given respect, given a voice.

Nothing is repressed, oppressed in a deep democracy. Security is possible only in a world of equality and justice, health is possible only in a body whose parts are all equally nourished, sanity is possible only in a psyche that is a balanced community of equally important functions.

Capitalism, the Hopi would say, is a deviation from the intended evolutionary path of humanity. It is against nature's template of deep democracy to separate and empower any part at the expense of the whole. Nature abhors ecologically unequal economics, she distributes life to everything indiscriminately.

Capitalism exploits nature, creates inequality, imbalance - it needs injustice, cruelty. But worst of all capitalism and communism are both relentlessly materialistic - both fail to treat Mother Nature with the respect due the sacred, the holy. Our materialism has blinded us to a terrible truth - in denying the sacredness of nature we forgot "sacred" is another word for "powerful."

This Apocalypse isn't finished with us yet either, because if we can get the virus under control then we will have to deal with rising oceans, fires that destroy globally pivotal ecosystems, drought, famine, massive migrations of sick, desperate people, global food shortages and violence.

These converging disasters are the final crisis of materialism. The profanation of the Sacred Mother has provoked an apocalypse and this is my ofreda, my prayer for forgiveness, a place to light a candle and ask for healing.

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