Here’s something close to my heart.
It’s become almost an orthodoxy in neopaganism, and amongst the Jungian inspired, that the Earth is a goddess, a mother, a mythical woman, female. I believe Jung even claimed that whereas women naturally identify with the Earth, a man could not do so except as an expression of psychological disturbance (I’m uncertain as to where his evidence for this came from). The litany trips off the tongue almost automatically for many: mother earth and father sky. Always, earth mother, sky father. It’s a convention from those who laid the foundations of modern comparative mythology in the 19th century.
It’s quite true that representations of The Earth as mother and goddess are cross cultural and widespread, but they are not universal. The Egyptians represented the Earth as the god Geb, sometimes depicted lying on his back with Nut the goddess of the heavens arching above him. Other gods have decidedly earthy qualities, and hint at a more archaic sense of the masculine. I feel that the satyrs and centaurs also point towards this in places. Gods with Earth qualities to my mind include Kernunnos, Frey, Pan, Dionysus, Bes, Faunus, Chiron, Pluto and Saturn amongst others.
In modern neopagan Witchcraft the Horned God also seems to embody a face of “Father Earth”, and not just a son and consort to the mother. There is a bridge to this in the interpretation of some Witches that He is the male form of The Goddess (though I prefer to see them as forms of each other).
I think we should also recognise that Gaia in the modern sense of our “blue planet” has arisen relatively recently in our collective consciousness, catalysed by our looking back from space at our world. Gaia, as we see her nowadays, is very much a product of the 1960s, and no less powerful for that. “She” glitters with both land and ocean and cloud, a mandala of our unified local world.
If you look at the psychological issues of placing Earth with women and effectively denying male identification with our physical ground of being, then they are quite profound. Some will tell you that a man must connect with”mother earth” through a woman, or maybe through his inner woman or “anima”. The former effectively keeps part of a man’s sense of self and grounding in the hands of someone who is thereby also separated from him. It makes his body only a body in relation to women in one sense. The latter is surely also of questionable workability, as your “inner woman” (if you have one) is of a different form to your own body. Just how much grounding in the body and the Earth can a man get from a figure that is again definitively unlike him in form? Form and the body are very important here, so I would question this praxis.
For a heterosexual man you can see the deal being offered – you’re my Earth, I’m your something else. I don’t know if this can lead to full actualization, but you can see something could work, even if it keeps people polarized and separated (though depth of relationship brings about great transformation). For a gay man however, there is no offer. A gay man does not go home to women (literally or figuratively) to find his Earth. He has to find that in himself or another man (and personally I suggest both, but maybe that’s just me). It’s also not much use trying to find your Earth in your “inner woman”, because guess what? That’s right, you ain’t one, and you ain’t never gonna bring it down (or up) into your own body through an internal model that has a whole different form to your male body. Now the more transgendered you are, the less this might apply, but how the transgendered embody the Earth is something they would need to teach me about. For myself, I see a lot of very poorly earthed gay men, and a lot of straight men that just let a lot of their deeper physical being and self-esteem go straight out the door. Until men can be valued for their deeper being, and not what they can be used for (protector, labourer, fighter, sperm bank etc) I don’t see that changing. That kind of freeing would benefit women also I feel, because none of us can be free when our brothers and sisters are not.
I think we have reached a time when things with the genders and sexes are ready to change and mature for the first time in a very long time. Father Earth emerging in our consciousness is one sign of that.