Inspiring Quotes and Prose from Leading Female Activists and Authors for Earth Day
by Nikki Eisinger
April 21, 2021
When the Dalai Lama famously spoke those words, at the World Peace Conference in Canada in 2009, what he meant is that women inherently bring a greater focus on nurturing and connection, which just could be the cure for the wounds of our time, particularly the plight of our planet. It was a further call to action to women throughout the west, a call that many modern day female authors and poets already answer.
Of course there are many famous writers who have been inspired to tune their word lyrics to the changes in seasons, variations in landscape, and the natural phenomena around them. From Greek poets and philosophers, to Shakespeare and Arthurian writers, to our own legendary Wordsworth, Thoreau, John Muir, male writers have been provided much more infamy than their female counterparts.
Yet this magical planet has been muse to many female writers and activists too. Here are a few of the best quotes and poems from inspiring female authors and activists to celebrate Earth Day, in gratitude to those who light the path.
1. Toni Packer, Zen Author and Meditation Teacher:
"In truth we are not separate from each other or from the world, from the whole earth, the sun or moon or billions of stars, not separate from the entire universe. Listening silently in quiet wonderment, without knowing anything, there is just one mysteriously palpitating aliveness.”
“And if we dare to look into those eyes, then we shall feel their suffering in our hearts. More and more people have seen that appeal and felt it in their hearts. All around the world there is an awakening of understanding and compassion, and understanding that reaches out to help the suffering animals in their vanishing homelands. That embraces hungry, sick, and desperate human beings, people who are starving while the fortunate among us have so much more than we need. And if, one by one, we help them, the hurting animals, the desperate humans, then together we shall alleviate so much of the hunger, fear, and pain in the world. Together we can bring change to the world, gradually replacing fear and hatred with compassion and love. Love for all living beings and our living planet.”
“Earth Mother, you who are called by a thousand names. May all remember we are cells in your body and dance together.”
“The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time. They are kneeling with hands clasped that we might act with restraint, that we might leave room for the life that is destined to come. To protect what is wild is to protect what is gentle. Perhaps the wilderness we fear is the pause between our own heartbeats, the silent space that says we live only by grace. Wilderness lives by this same grace. Wild mercy is in our hands.”
“To be whole. To be complete. Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from. Once upon a time, when women were birds, there was the simple understanding that to sing at dawn and to sing at dusk was to heal the world through joy. The birds still remember what we have forgotten, that the world is meant to be celebrated.”
5. Mary Hunter Austin, the eldest of our featured women, was a novelist and essayist who inspired Muir and others with her writings on nature and Native American Culture. B. Sept. 9, 1868, D. Aug. 13, 1934 (Feature photo.)
"Man is not himself only...He is all that he sees; all that flows to him from a thousand sources...He is the land, the lift of its mountain lines, the reach of its valleys."
6. Sharon Blackie, If Women Rose Rooted: A Journey to Authenticity and Belonging:
“If women remember that once upon a time we sang with the tongues of seals and flew with the wings of swans, that we forged our own paths through the dark forest while creating a community of its many inhabitants, then we will rise up rooted, like trees…well then, women might indeed save not only ourselves but the world."
7. Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With The Wolves:
"Go out in the woods, go out. If you don't go out in the woods nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin.”
8. Joanna Macy, Author, Buddhist Teacher, Activist:
“To be alive in this beautiful, self-organizing universe -- to participate in the dance of life with senses to perceive it, lungs that breathe it, organs that draw nourishment from it -- is a wonder beyond words.”
9. Robin Wall Kimmerer, author Braiding Sweetgrass:
"Something is broken when the food comes on a Styrofoam tray wrapped in slippery plastic, a carcass of a being whose only chance at life was a cramped cage. That is not a gift of life; it is a theft."
"For all of us, becoming indigenous to a place means living as if your children’s future mattered, to take care of the land as if our lives, both material and spiritual, depended on it.”
10. Rachel Carson, Another Elder, (b. 1907, d. 1964) A Marine Biologist, catalyst for the modern environmental movement and author of Silent Spring:
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature—the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
11. Sandra Ingerman, Shaman and Author, Medicine for the Earth:
"Today it is well understood that stress has a negative impact on our physical bodies and our emotional health. But we do not yet recognize the tremendous stress caused by not following nature's cycles, nor that this also leads to emotional and physical illness. Just imagine the physical stress of walking against the flow of a rushing river. This is what we do spiritually as we walk against the flow of the river of life on a daily basis.”
12. Susan Griffin, Pulitzer Prize winning Activist and Author of Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her
"This earth is my sister; I love her daily grace, her silent daring, and how loved I am. How we admire this strength in each other, all that we have lost, all that we have suffered, all that we know: We are stunned by this beauty, and I do not forget: what she is to me, what I am to her.”
13. Malidoma Somé, Our token Male, actually - he is a West African Author and Spiritual Leader with a great message:
“The truth is, our disconnection with earth translates into a kind of disrespect of the feminine. How far can you go in violating the mother that gave you life? As long as the feminine is diminished, the connection between us and the earth is going to be always underscored by a big question mark.”
14. Mary Oliver, beloved poet and author, Sleeping In The Forest:
remembered me, she
took me back so tenderly, arranging
her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds. I slept
as never before, a stone
on the riverbed, nothing
between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated
light as moths among the branches
of the perfect trees. All night
I heard the small kingdoms breathing
around me, the insects, and the birds
who do their work in the darkness. All night
I rose and fell, as if in water, grappling
with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.