Many religions make a rigid distinction between matter and spirit, placing the latter into a superior position over the former. Some even view the material world as corrupt or evil, and a sort of trap for the inherently good spirit. Western Culture is rooted in this dualistic philosophy. It sees the material world as something to be owned, controlled, and used up for the purposes of mankind. Its ethics are driven by pragmatic usefulness. If a forest is more valuable as lumber, then cut it down and bring it to the mill. If we want to graze cattle, then slash and burn.
The prevailing culture views the body in much the same way, identifying the body as “merely a vehicle for the soul”, and we treat it as something to be used up. You only live once, so live it up! This isn’t so terrible, if it were limited to our own bodies, but patriarchal culture has particularly identified the bodies of women as belonging to men. Sometimes, it is about a specific woman’s body belonging to a specific man (such as her husband or father), but it also applies broadly– that the bodies of women in general are a public good, controlled by the men in charge.
So the attitudes toward the Earth and Women’s bodies are strongly linked as resources to be controlled and exploited for the benefit of men.
The animistic paradigm that is present in most indigenous cultures does not align with this sort of dualistic thinking. In the animistic world-view, spirit infuses everything, and matter and spirit are both sacred. It sees the material world as an expression of the spiritual world, and if there is corruption or imbalance in the material, these have their origin in corruption or imbalance in spirit. Shamanic healers restore balance by speaking with the spirits which inhabit the material world, and use various methods to restore balance to the underlying spiritual discord.
The Tribe of Gaea strongly rejects the dualistic world view, embracing matter as sacred. In this section, you will read about how this value is expressed in practical terms.