This is part of the Pagan Experience prompts. If you are interested in a blogging project, I recommend it!
In the Otherfaith, ‘earth’ refers to our planet, our world, our place in the universe. Earth is our physical home.
This is a bit in contrast with our otherworld. The West is not necessarily our home. The West is connected to our physical earth, perhaps. It is created from a ‘rod of man’ and a ‘branch of fairy’, after all. I believe it is a safe bet to assume that the West is tied to our earth. Many of our gods travel or originated from earth, this planet, as well. the Dierne is said to have wandered our streets. Various Laethas lived human lives before returning or being carried away into our otherworld.
I often question if the Otherfaith is an ‘earth-based’ religion, however. We do not focus on agriculture or pristine wilderness. Our holy days aren’t based on sowing or harvesting. Cities and wilds are both part of our reality. Urban life is not seen as something to be erased. Nor is humanity. But surely we are ‘earth-based’, as our gods manifest and represent very different things depending on where we experience them.
A river god means something completely different in the Southwest US than it does in the Midwest US, after all.
Earth as a planet is special to us. It’s our home. This giant rock sails through the universe, orbiting around the sun, taking us with it on its incredible journey. When we are gone, the earth will continue to exist. We will leave marks – only a fool thinks that all we have built and dug and destroyed will vanish when we do.1
The West is seen as tied up, in some way, with our own world. It is not a pure, painless afterlife. I don’t know if it could count as an afterlife at all. Perhaps the connection means that when the earth is destroyed, so will the West go. Or perhaps our own exploitation of our planet affects our otherworld. Certainly in the myths we see our own realities reflected. Our own influence shows most strongly here, however. (It has been said that it is difficult if not impossible to conceive of something truly alien, unlike anything we have encountered on this planet. I’m not quite sure if I believe that to be true, but it is interesting to think on.)
Our gods may be tied up in our world, but we don’t quite have an earth god or goddess. the Clarene holds the West as her domain, but she is not the West and capable of leaving it (she originated outside of it, after all). the Laetha is a god who is connected to the land, her soul somewhat horrifically warping to become one with the West. But she becomes one with the West, abandoning her previous home of our own earth. She isn’t an earth god. A land god, perhaps. But words are important, in all their broad and minute meanings.
And the earth is our physical world, our planet. This rock in space.
The West, in some ways, transcends the earth. the Clarene, for a variety of reasons, strikes out to the stars. Her world is full of spaceships and rockets and orbiting stations. There’s just the occasional complication of stars not being, well, stars, and instead often hostile spirits.
Which isn’t to say that since we are born on earth that we are bound here. This is surely the dreamer in me, but the stars captivate. Our own galaxy is so huge, the space between us and the planets in our own solar system bending the mind. We look out into a sky that is the past. And we continue to look up, and go up, and look farther all the time. Plenty of people don’t find value in space exploration. To me, it’s always been inspiring.
Of course, I’ve never believed we’re ‘alone’ in the universe, so I’m inspired by the possibilities of life elsewhere. And of the beauty of the universe, though our eyes could hardly behold it. (It is frightfully easy to forget, after seeing so many enhanced images of space, that these magnificent nebulae and galaxies do not look as colorful to human eyes.)
I haven’t not, personally, felt ‘of’ this world, this earth. It’s a feeling I don’t find use in idealizing. Especially when it detaches me from loving and caring for this world that is sustaining me. I may not feel as though I am rooted here, but I am here. I’m walking this world’s sidewalks, and its forests, into its rivers and down its dusty roads. My eyes, and my mind, might be turned up to the stars or sideways into otherworlds, but I’m still a human on the earth. I’m still a little earthling. There is, I think, a distinct power in accepting and integrating that into our being.
1. I know some people believe that referring to our planet as ‘it’ helps in our objectification and exploitation of the earth. I find that referring to the earth as gendered in some way to be distasteful, however.↩
Thank you for reading. ‘of the Other People’ is a site dedicated to the Otherfaith, a modern polytheist religion. You can find more about us here and here. You can contact us here if you have any questions or would like to get involved.