BP: Wounding My Mother, Wounding Pachamama,

(midnight – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)

It begins as helplessness.  Nothing more, nothing less.  I watch as oil spews from BP’s well into the Gulf of Mexico, killing sea life, destroying the ocean, ruining the breeding grounds near the shore.  The Gulf of Mexico is becoming a vast petroleum gumbo garnished with oil soaked sea birds and drowned turtles.  I watch this.  I wish that all of the wise men and women of the world could find a solution, could stop the flow.  But as the time elapses, and the 48 hour periods to know whether the flow can be stemmed mount up, it should be obvious to me.  There may be no solution.  At least not for the foreseeable future.  And by then, by then what even BP is calling a “catastrophe” will be that much more enormous.  That much more irremediable.  The leak will have killed much of the Gulf of Mexico, and unchecked, it will continue to kill.

Keith Olbermann thinks that Obama should show more anger about this.  That, he thinks, will show people that Obama is with them.  Or something.  Personally, I have more than enough unproductive anger about BP.  I don’t need it to be mirrored.  Or extended.  No.  What I want is internal.  I want to understand what BP is doing and has done to my interior landscape.  I want to come to terms with that.  And to comprehend it in this way, I use what I know: I look at the mythic, and I look at myself.  It’s Shamanism 101.

Please join me on this voyage.  

Have I ever seen anything like this before?  Have I ever seen my Mother Earth, Pachamama, Santa Madre Tierra so wounded and killed by one of her children?  I’ve been thinking about the BP leak as a wound that will lead to matricide, the death of our Mother.  

I’ve found two myths that seem to apply.  There are doubtless others. I offer these two as a beginning point.

In Babylonian mythology, Tiamat is a primordial goddess of the salt water ocean, mating with the god Abzû to produce younger gods. … Later when Ea’s son Marduk creates problems for her yet sleeping god youngsters by playing with sand storms and tornadoes, she conspires to retaliate by creating eleven frightening monsters and erecting her son Kingu as their general, but this plot fails when Marduk slays them all including Tiamat herself. From Tiamat’s body the world is formed, land and sea.


Marduk kills his mother.  Marduk, who plays with things that should not be played with, sandstorms and tornadoes and deep sea drilling, kills the primordial goddess of the salt water ocean.  And the world is far different because of her death; it then has both land and sea.  Marduk’s killing his mother is a cosmos shifting, future changing event:

Tiamat possessed the Tablets of Destiny and in the primordial battle she gave them to Kingu, the god she had chosen as her lover and the leader of her host. The deities gathered in terror, but [Marduk], first extracting a promise that he would be revered as “king of the gods”, overcame her, armed with the arrows of the winds, a net, a club, and an invincible spear.

   And the lord stood upon Tiamat’s hinder parts,

   And with his merciless club he smashed her skull.

   He cut through the channels of her blood,

   And he made the North wind bear it away into secret places.

Slicing Tiamat in half, he made from her ribs the vault of heaven and earth. Her weeping eyes became the source of the Tigris and the Euphrates. With the approval of the elder deities, he took from Kingu the Tablets of Destiny, installing himself as the head of the Babylonian pantheon.

Is that what we have done?  Has the BP leak changed the Gulf of Mexico, the oceans, and the entire world in ways that cannot yet be comprehended?  Is that what we are watching and are helpless to change?  Put another way, are we Marduk?

Another myth. If you think of the Earth, Mother Earth, Pachamama, Santa Madre Tierra as a living, moving, thinking, conscious being, our planet, our Mother, what is this horrible gaping wound that has been done to her?  What is this deep puncture to her insides, to her womb, to her intestines that is now leaking her precious blood and bodily fluids into the Gulf of Mexico?  What kind of grave injury have we given to our Mother that is now spurting her life force, her blood into the ocean, creating huge plumes of oil and death as it flows?

How do I confront the bleeding out of our Mother?  Bleeding I am unable to staunch.

And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.

I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field…

Ezekiel 16:6 – 7

It’s an ancient prayer.  Some call it the Bleeding Prayer. “When I came upon you polluted in your own blood, I said, ‘Live.  Heal, like the plants in the field.'”  It seems to fit the present disaster: uncontrollable bleeding of our Mother that is beyond our ability to check.  Our engineering and governmental resources just aren’t up to the task.  If there’s a solution, it’s obviously in another realm, of Spirit.

For the past month, I have written extensively about BP and this disaster.  What I notice about my writing is that it’s angry and I have been making a sharp, bright line between BP and the rest of us, including myself.  On reflection I now think that one of the reasons we are so ineffective in handling this disaster is our shadow and the degree to which we have tried to suppress and disown our inner BP.  My inner BP: my tyrannical, know-it-all, powerful, greedy, reckless, patriarchal, secretive, dishonest inner BP.  As I write this sentence, I think, “Wait.  BP is the fourth largest corporation in the world.  It’s not even a person.  You’re not like that, at all.  You love the Earth.”  A thought that to me is first rate evidence of my own shadow and of the existence of an inner BP that has neither been acknowledged nor honored.

So what, as Lenin said, is to be done?  I invite you to join me a small ceremony.  I will make a small altar to my inner BP.  I will put on it things that remind me of BP or that I identify as BP or that have something to do with my inner BP and drilling and oil and accidents and destruction and recklessness.  I will acknowledge these many things, and I will consider how it is that they have helped me live and exist in the world, in my life, the benefits they have given me in the past.  And then, when I understand and can feel how that is, I will honor each of these aspects of BP that I find in me.  I will thank them for being of assistance to me, for helping me survive, for helping me grow and succeed.  And then I will commit them to the fire and release them.

I invite you to join me in this.


initially simulposted at The Dream Antilles and cross posted on 5/20/10 at daily Kos


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  1. Thanks for reading.

  2. I think of Pachamama a lot lately too.

    We’ve got to change how we live.  

    In thinking of the future, I’m always struck by the resilience I’ve seen from the native peoples when I’ve travelled in Central or South America.  The Mayan women in Guatemala, farming corn or other vegetables on the steep slopes of the green mountains.  Similar scenes in Ecuador and Peru (though not so green).

    For some of them, still farming the way they may have done centuries ago, it’s as if they defied the Spanish/etc. conquest (or collapse of Mayan civilization)- and just turned to the earth.  I wonder how many of them sensed the huge changes coming.

    • melvin on May 31, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Under attack since Gilgamesh

    I will set my hands to it and fell the cedars, I will make myself a sounding name

    and Solomon

    Now therefore command thou that they hew me cedar trees out of Lebanon

    Lately they haven’t done too well under shrapnel fire. But a few groves still stand.

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