The Earth is becoming polluted beyond repair. Soon, there won't be a single corner of the Earth where the air will be clean, the flowing rivers will be clear and the soil will be pure.
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The Earth is becoming polluted beyond repair. Soon, there won't be a single corner of the Earth where the air will be clean, the flowing rivers will be clear and the soil will be pure.

So much has been written about the Earth's plight. So much has been spoken, too, and many suggestions have been offered. But how can we find an answer to these problems unless we ask the Earth herself? How does she want to heal? What does she need?

In old times, the Earth was revered as a divine being. She was worshipped with prayers, rituals and sacrifices. People visited her temples, her shrines, to offer prayers and gifts; to ask for help and advice.

So much has changed in our attitude since then. We no longer really see the Earth as a divine, living being. We no longer offer prayers or build shrines in her honour. But there is something which has not changed, and that is this: We can still ask her.

This is what happened, one morning, as the result of a dream a friend had. She dreamt of the Earth as a woman who was being abused by people and was crying because she could no longer nourish her children. The intensity of the dream and the pain it evoked were heart-wrenching. Not only was the Earth abused, but she was suffering because she could no longer care for us -- for the people who were abusing her.

That day we just so happened to be going to visit the temple of Apollo at Delphi in Greece. Apollo used to be known as a god of prophecy. His oracle at Delphi was famous as one of the most sacred places in antiquity. Kings and warriors, as well as ordinary people, came here to seek advice and guidance. The utterances of Pythia, Apollo's priestess, were the most powerful words anyone could hear and meant life or death for those who sought them.

And here we were, standing among the ruins of what once was a magnificent temple. The last Pythia had died many centuries ago and, since then, Apollo had been silent. The oracle was now a pile of broken stones with only a few pillars still standing.

I sat on a rock opposite the temple and felt an incredible despair. Since the morning, when I had heard the dream in all its painful detail, these burning questions were boiling inside my chest: How can the Earth nourish her children? How can the Earth stop suffering?

As I sat silently on the rock with these questions I heard a voice say, "Ask." Of course! I was at an oracle. What does it matter if the temple is now in ruins and people no longer come to consult the Pythia? The gods don't disappear because we no longer remember them. The power that had given oracles was still present even though there was no prophetess any more. After all, this used to be the oracle of Gaia -- goddess of the Earth -- before it became an oracle of Apollo.

I asked. And with eyes still closed I saw a young woman, seated on a stool, looking straight at me with piercing eyes. Then she closed her eyes and, as she leaned her head back, a whole vista opened to her left. It was as if a cloud had been lifted and I saw hundreds of people, mostly women, kneeling on the ground in what appeared to be a vast field with no beginning and no end. Their bodies were moving rhythmically together as they were all bending from the waist to bring their foreheads close to the ground. And they were repeating this again, and again, without any sound. This was their prayer, a silent prayer that engaged their bodies and their hearts in reverence to the Earth.

The vision lasted only for a short time, but I became aware that my body was now moving with the same rhythmic motion, and that this is how the Earth will heal: with us offering our hearts and our bodies in prayer to her.

This was the oracle's answer to those burning questions.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with our women's conference, "The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power" which will take place in New York on June 6, 2013. To read all of the posts in the series and learn more about the conference, click here. Join the conversation on Twitter #ThirdMetric.

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