Hurricane Irene made landfall on August 27, 2011 at 7:30 A.M. crashing into our very own Greensboro, North Carolina. Mother Nature sent her worst as the hurricane slowly made its way north hitting every major city and flooded the entire east coast. We have all been warned not to test Mother Nature, but most have no clue who she is, or from where she comes. She is a household name whose identity is cloaked in religious mystery.
The use of the term “Mother Nature” began to show up around the Middle Ages. She was not perceived as a deity though she was also not seen as a simple personification; it was somewhere in between. “The hills are alive with the sound of music” is the best way to explain this concept; the hills aren’t actually alive, but if you listen close enough, you can hear the songs they sing. The title of “Mother Nature” derived from the Latin language. Natura means “birth”, “character” or “essential qualities”. If you are confused as to why this word was chosen to express the concept of nature, you have every right to be, as it outwardly makes no sense. After connecting an understanding of Greek Mythology (the missing link in this baffiling etomology) to Natura, “birth”, “character”, “essential qualities” and “Mother Nature” go hand in hand. To make sense of this modern personification, let’s travel back to ancient Greece.
According to Greek Mythology, the stunningly beautiful Goddess Persephone was kidnapped by Hades, God of the Underworld because he loved her so. Persephone’s mother Demeter, Goddess of the harvest, fertility, and procreation was so upset by her child’s disappearance, she ceased with the production of her duties. The Earth stopped producing fruit, the animals stopped mating, vegetation died, and the whole world fell into a cold state of starvation and sorrow. Zeus, father of Persephone, came to Demeter begging her to continue her deities for the fate of mankind because life was at stake. Blinded by the love of her child, she refused to give Earth life until her daughter was returned to her.
Zeus, frighten for humanity, sent the Messenger God Hermes to the Underworld to retrieve Persephone. Persephone, however, having been recently married to Hades, had consumed juice and seeds from the pomegranate; the food of the Underworld which bound her to the realm of the dead. Hades insisted she was now Queen of the Underworld; never to return to the surface. A compromise was finally made – half the year she would spend with her mother, and the other half with her husband. Demeter, unsatisfied with the arrangement, still to this day punishes the Earth by stopping all fertility, life and growth when her daughter leaves for the underworld; the causing result is fall and winter. No animals procreate, no harvest grows, and no life blossoms. With the changing seasons come changing weather patterns, and the true nature we know as “Mother Earth”.
The mother “character” who allows for “birth” and gives the “essential qualities” for life is Demeter. Forever scorned by her daughter’s marriage, she will forever punish the Earth, thus continually perpetuate seasons. Over the centuries the idea of Mother Nature grew to encompass all natural power that the Earth could hurdle towards us. An earthquake and hurricane later, we in Greensboro are getting the idea; Mother Nature is mad, and heartbroken. It’s that time of year, again, when Persephone will soon leave her mother for the Underworld.