As with Terra and Gaia, Earth/Hertha/Nerthus is a Goddess. I think civilizations have always acknowledged her as Mother. We keep calling her by Goddess names, even in monotheist eras.
I find it a little odd that we also call soil “earth”. Mother as the sum of her parts – the physical matter of her body, but reduced to the rocky sediment. But really, ocean is as much “earth” as soil is. Air, lava, and living organic matter are, too. You and I are “earth”. So this wording from our language draws my eye to the separateness and stage-set attitude of Western Civilization being “on the earth” rather than “in the earth”. On a ground or stage, rather than deep within the biosphere… itself deep within the universe. Above, on top of, dominating, walking on… Planet as mostly inanimate prop to play out the lofty human drama, instead of the reality that Pagans know of planet as living home and community to which we belong and mother from which we emerged… inseparable from ourselves.
I see soil as deep and fecund, and the ground as a lot more than a simple surface. From spinning core and ever-shifting mantle creating a magnetosphere to shield us from solar winds, to rich medium that produces and nourishes all life as well as storing and transforming organic and inorganic matter, to ancient mountains and ocean rifts, to the symbolic shamanic lower world we can descend into for knowledge and experience. It is the fire and the cauldron.
Part of my spiritual work is to bring this vital, communal, and immersive sensibility back into my culture’s relationship with Earth. It is currently and for so long has been sick with