When I left the city of my birth and relocated to a thirty acre bit of land, my relationship with Mother Earth became an intimate one. We named that lovely and sacred wooded corner of the world, Wanderground, in deference to and honoring of Sally Miller Gearhart’s visionary book. Imagine a place where a stream happily accommodates the beaver and her dam, where a possum creates her home in the base of an ancient walnut tree; where raccoons arrogantly invite themselves to the herb garden, and where the pileated woodpeckers lead a noisy parade of other birds to the feeders. Although I had yet to discover the name, that was when I became an ecofeminist.
As an ecofeminist, I joined the growing number of women who embrace a philosophy that integrates feminist and ecological and spiritual values. Ecofeminists share the conviction that a profound shift in perception and practices is essential to the survival of our planet, as well as to the healing of our dis/eased society. This is a paradigm shift. This shift must occur on a multitude of levels. The ecology movement cannot be separate from feminism; neither can be sustained without a spiritual foundation. If equality for women is achieved while the planet continues catapulting toward destruction, what good is that equality? If the planet becomes pollution-free and safe from nuclear threat while women remain disenfranchised, then Earth remains unsafe for all its habitants.
Ecofeminism is a philosophy that confronts not only the domination of the earth by polluters, but domination in all of its many and pervasive forms: whites over people of color, men over women, heterosexuals over lesbians and gays, adults over children, humans over animals and nature. These and other inequities are forces of domination that must be challenged…and, I submit, overturned.
As I write this, a young buck has approached the window of my studio and, curious, has been peering at me, checking me out. Apparently satisfied that I am like-minded, he ambles back into the woods. I want to believe that his visit validates the connection we have, he and I. I receive his gift as an acknowledgement that yes, I am with him and he is one with me. That’s ecofeminism.
Starhawk, writer and midwife to the women’s spirituality movement, names this philosophy of domination estrangement because we see ourselves as separated from and as actors upon the world. We are strangers to nature, to our fellow human beings, even to parts of ourselves. We perceive the world to be comprised of nonliving, disintegrated entities without inherent value. As a result, we’ve come to view all relationships as things to be manipulated and dominated.
Much of the above was published in 1997 in Coming Full Circle…Honoring the Rhythms of Relationships. Now, over twenty years hence, my passion as an ecofeminist is being ignited! Although I no longer reside on that magical land, I am grateful to live among the trees, the raccoons, and squirrels.