All that you touch
All that you Change
The only lasting truth
— The Book of the Living
The first tenet of Earthseed is “God is Change”. The use of the word “God” in the singular can be problematic for some Pagans and other religious feminists, for whom the word can imply a masculine deity.
Many Neo-Pagans resonate more with the word “Goddess” than “God”. Neo-Paganism is a feminist religion which recognizes that women in particular have been harmed by patriarchal monotheism with its exclusively male image of God. The image of the Neo-Pagan Goddess is a response to this. The image of the Neo-Pagan Goddess offers women a new self-image and facilitates the re-discovery women’s own innate goodness and natural divinity. This image enables women to redeem and revalue the qualities traditionally labelled “feminine” and offers them positive symbols of female empowerment. Images of the feminine divine can also transform how men think about gender, including how they relate to women, to other men, and to their ownselves.
The Neo-Pagan Goddess resembles the God of Earthseed in several ways. For many Neo-Pagans, the Goddess is a radically immanent deity that can be experienced directly through our senses. The Earth and all of the material world is understood as the body of the Goddess. We human beings can connect to the Goddess through our experience of our own bodies, as well as the “body” of the Earth. The Neo-Pagan Goddess is constantly changing, manifest in the changing of the seasons and the human life-cycle, and perpetually self-renewed.
The Goddess as Earth Mother is one of the most common images of the Neo-Pagan Goddess. For many Neo-Pagans, the world is is the Goddess (pantheism) or is contained within the womb of the Goddess (panentheism) The meaning of the Goddess as Mother is that the divine is creative. But unlike the creator God of the monotheisms, the Goddess’ creativity is organic, a function of what she is, rather than something she does. It is through her body that she creates.
It is true that not all women are mothers, or want to be mothers, and pregnancy and birth are not the only forms of creativity open to women. Rather than being a simplistic prescriptive model for human behavior, the Goddess as Mother draws our attention to how we are immersed in a material world that is radically interconnected. It affirms our bodily reality and relationships with each other and the natural world.
Certainly, Octavia Butler, who was a feminist, did not intend to imply a masculine deity when she coined the phrase, “God is Change.” Butler’s God is not a person at all, much less a gendered person. In any case, Earthseed is an adaptive religion, which means that we can easily choose to say “Goddess is Change” instead of “God is Change”. Consider this familiar Pagan chant by author and activist, Starhawk, which could easily be taken from Earthseed’s scripture, the Book of the Living:
She changes everything she touches and
everything she touches, changes
Change is, touch is; touch is, change is.
Change us, touch us; touch us, change us.
We are changers;
everything we touch can change.
∞ = Δ