On February 22, 2017 NASA made a stunning announcement. The Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first-known system of seven Earth-sized exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) in orbit around a single star. This system is in the constellation of Aquarius and is about 40 light-years from Earth–relatively close in stellar terms. NASA believes three of these exoplanets may be in the habitable zone, where a rocky planet is likely to have water. In a radical departure from the opinion that “earths” are exceedingly rare, widely held only a decade ago, scientists are now realizing that Earth-like planets are common. So what is the meaning of an ‘earth’?
Data from the Kepler Space Telescope suggests there may be more than two billion planets in our galaxy alone that are in the Goldilocks zone that could support life. This new awareness requires a radical shift in our paradigm relative to our place in the scheme of things. The idea that we are unique, or alone in the cosmos, becomes fantasy. The reality is that the Universe is likely teeming with life, and this life may be diverse and “alien” in appearance and nature, or perhaps familiar, if evolution has proven templates of form. The implications are complex and far-reaching.
As these astronomical discoveries increase with improved telescope technology we may well ask what does it mean to be an “earth?” The modern English word for our planet dates back at least a thousand years. The word “earth” came from the Anglo-Saxon word erda, and it’s Germanic equivalent erde, which means ground or soil. Nearly every language has its own name for our planet. It’s called terra in Portuguese, dünya in Turkish, and aarde in Dutch. The common thread is all these names were derived from the idea of ground—where we stand.
Many researchers insist that beings from other stars, with more advanced technology, have been visiting us for at least a million years. We could even be the offspring of ancient colonizing travelers. Human beings on our “Earth” still have a difficult time relating to others who might have different colored skin, or different religious beliefs. We fight wars over which of the “one Gods” is the true deity. When will we become mature enough to face the truth?
When we become a truly space-faring race, visiting planets in other star systems where life exists, we will be the alien ETs. It’s daunting (and exciting) to imagine the variety of beliefs that might exist in the wide expanse of our galaxy, never mind the Universe. Frankly, I can’t wait to board the Enterprise and go see for myself.
Copyright 2017, Julie Loar
About the Author: Julie Loar is the multiple award-winning author of six books and dozens of articles. She is an international teacher and scholar of myth and symbolism. Her latest book, Goddesses For Every Day: Exploring the Wisdom & Power of the Divine Feminine Around The World, , published by New World Library, is available from booksellers everywhere. She has traveled to sacred sites around the world, researching the material in her books and teachings, and each year she leads a tour to Egypt. Her popular astrology feature appears in ATLANTIS RISING magazine.