Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earthly Vanity

These past three years around Earth Day I have highly anticipated and dreaded Vanity Fair's Green Issue. Anticipation because I love their writing (it's really never about the person on the cover, but about hardcore issues affecting the world's political, cultural and social landscapes) and dread because the news about our dear Mother Earth is so often gut-wrenching.

Last year, I cried a good while after reading articles about China's dire water problems and the oil industry's heinous actions in the Amazon.

This morning I finished an article titled "The Arctic Oil Rush" (check out the entire issue online - it's worth it). Various countires are scrambling to claim rights to the Arctic because of the oil possibilities lying under a rapidly shrinking ice world (the irony of this is simply stunning - the world is warming up because of oil, revealing more and we go right for it).

The most interesting part was that the author spoke to Northern Russian locals, including some of the few remaining shamans, and they said that the climate changes are the results of humanity's poor treatment of nature. Part of their proof in the pudding surrounds the mammoth bones that are surfacing due to permafrost melt. People are starting to gather the tusks to sell on a still-flourishing ivory market, but the elders of the communities don't think this is such a hot idea.

"One of the results of the melting is that too many mammoth bones appear on the land and people are collecting them," the article quotes one of the locals as saying. "But in our tradition the mammoth is the spirit of the underworld and we can't take their bones. So the elders are saying we have awakened these underworld spirits. The main thesis of our traditional view is: Don't take from nature more than you need; if you take more, you are not respecting nature."

Later in the artilce, the author, Alex Shoumatoff, points out that diseases like small pox and anthrax can lurk in the corpses of things frozen beneath layers of ice. As the ice melts, the germs get released, etc., and he adds in a bout of dark irony that perhaps those underworld spirits aren't fooling around.

I love this year's cover image. Putting the persona of Madonna aside, I love this sexy woman standing between the Earth and any potential harm. The look in her eyes is one of challenge and also seduction, combining two things in my life that mean a great deal to me: sensuality and Earth magick.

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