“The world is holy. We are holy. All life is holy. Daily prayers are delivered on the lips of breaking waves, the whisperings of grasses, the shimmering of leaves.” ~ Terry Tempest Williams
In the beginning, Gaia was. Primordial Goddess. Creatrix. Font of life. Source. According to Hesiod’s Theogyny, Gaia was autogenetic (self-generated) and emerged out of Chaos. She was also capable of parthenogenesis – She bore Ouranos, Ourea (the mountains), the Nymphs and the Barren Sea without a mate. Gaia then took Ouranos as a lover and bore the rest of Her children; the Titans, the Cyclops, the three 100-handed sons, and the Titanic Daughters of Gaia: Rhea (Deceitful Savior), Tethys (Disposer), Theia (The Goddess), Themis (Law), Mnemosyne (Memory), Phoebe (Bright Moon), and Dione (Divine Queen). Gaia takes Pontus (Her son, the barren sea) as a lover as well and through Her, all life in the sea springs forth. She is credited with creating not only Gods but Great Gods, and Great Monsters, all creating all life on Earth.
Gaia is eternally shrouded. Her outer faces of gigantic mountains and endless landscapes conceal mysterious, winding caverns and the fire of inner Earth. In Her mythology, She is cloaked in apparent political machinations with patricidal endings as She supplies the means for Kronos to kill Ouranos and, eventually, Zeus to kill Kronos. The defeat of the Titans by the Olympians is mythologically a defeat of Earth by Heaven. Gaia Olympia, the mountain, is renamed Olympus and from there, Zeus begins to bring the world to his patriarchal heel. Apollo, son of Zeus, slays Pythia and claims the navel of the world and the seat of Gaia’s oracle, Delphi, as his own. The voice of the Great Mother, Creatrix of us all, appears to have been silenced.
Or has She? Gaia’s gifts are revealed anew at every season. She maintains the rhythms of Herself through Nature and through the evolving generations of humanity. She cycles and re-cycles in ancient, arching patterns that defy the human need to know and understand everything right in this moment. “Right in this moment” for Gaia could be hundreds of human lifetimes.
Sometimes the cacophony of climate change strikes me as arrogant. Arrogant to make encompassing statements about global cooling, warming, shifting, shattering. Arrogant to assume that we can forever harm Gaia. Arrogant to dismiss that She does not know how this will all play out in the end. Arrogant to believe that She will not retaliate and decide which of Her creations that She will save. Arrogant to misunderstand that we are here at Her sufferance and through Her grace.
Gaia is the Ancient Mother that gave us life before time was even defined. One message has been made so very clear to me personally in my connection to Gaia is that She is not a victim. She is not devastated and crying out to be saved. She is patiently waiting for us to connect with Her wisdom; to make Her rhythms our own; to stand in the energy of harmony and pick up the mantles and responsibilities of STEWARDS of our Great Mother. The Earth is not ours; She is Herself and we are here for a time to look after it, make it better in any way that we can, and to pass on the wisdom to our children. I have great faith that Gaia is the Creatrix of this design that we call life and we simply have to identify how we fit into the pattern of Her design.
Respect for life, creation and our home (Gaia) is inherently feminine and part of grounding the energy of the Divine Feminine as strongly as we can into our world and our children. The patriarchal thrust of our world seeks to conquer and dominate,beginning with Zeus and Apollo. This is the ancient root of the modern disconnect with Gaia and the lack of respect and care for Earth.
Modern life is at odds with Gaia and we can see and feel the evidence of that dysfunction. The call for consumption and industrial growth inflicts damage to the natural world and is the result of the patriarchal thrust (pun intended). Some even have the temerity to genetically modify the bounty of the Mother and warp our food. Make no mistake, our DNA is part of the design of Gaia and those that seek to twist it for control or money are screwing with Divine Order and subject to Her wrath. For the Greeks, Gaia was a sacred and living presence whose laws were written in the lives of all creation. Greek thought held that the law of Gaia was not only the order of Nature but a moral order. A human crime (a profanity) against divine order was the original meaning of the word pollution.
Not only physically but emotionally, humanity is at odds with Gaia. Our lives are fast-paced with multiple electronic distractions that all take us from harmony with Gaia. As we rush from place to place, we ignore the call of the beauty around us.
“I want my life to be a celebration of slowness.
Walking through the sage from our front door, I am gradually drawn into the well-worn paths of deer. They lead me to Round Mountain and the bloodred side canyons below Castle Rock. Sometimes I see them, but often I don’t. Deer are quiet creatures, who, when left to their own nature, move slowly. Their large black eyes absorb all shadows, especially the flash of predators. And their ears catch each word spoken. But today they walk ahead with their halting prance, one leg raised, then another, and allow me to follow them. I am learning how to not provoke fear and flight among deer. We move into a pink, sandy wash, their black-tipped tails like eagle feathers. I lose sight of them as they disappear around the bend.
On the top of the ridge I can see for miles…. Inside this erosional landscape where all colors eventually bleed into the river, it is hard to desire anything but time and space.
Time and space. In the desert there is space. Space is the twin sister of time. If we have open space then we have open time to breath, to dream, to dare, to play, to pray to move freely, so freely, in a world our minds have forgotten but our bodies remember. Time and space. This partnership is holy. In these redrock canyons, time creates space–an arch, an eye, this blue eye of sky. We remember why we love the desert; it is our tactile response to light, to silence, and to stillness.
Gaia is not calling us to save Her, but calling us to save ourselves:
- to re-member who we are in Her design
- to re-establish the Divine Order in our daily interactions with Gaia and Nature
- to live in harmony with Her rhythms
- to assume the mantle of steward as each of us are called by Her
- to receive the wisdom of Gaia and pass it on to our children
- to ground the Divine Feminine within our consciousness and actions
- to be open to the awesomeness and wonder of She
In ancient times, Gaia had major shrines throughout the ancient worlds with the most well known at Delphi. Since dreams were believed to ascend from the Netherworld (inside the Earth), Gaia was attributed oracular functions and Her oracle at Delphi was established and consulted for almost 2000 years with the last 1100 years being under the auspices of Apollo. It was still the whispers of Gaia that came through the prophecies no matter the patriarchal claims of ownership. For an Earth (or any day) ritual, I invite you to take a sacred pause and become an Earth Speaker, using my ritual meditation to Gaia.
I am posting this in honor of Earth Day, in order for us to take the time to reflect what our place is in the Divine Order of Gaia. Blessings of Gaia on all of us … may we live wisdom of Gaia each and every day and remember to take time to enjoy Her bounty.
The Myths of the Goddess by Anne Baring and Jules Cashford
Lost Goddesses of Early Greece by Charlene Spretnak
Virgin Mother Goddesses of Antiquity by Marguerite Rigoglioso
Woman and Nature – The Roaring Inside Her by Susan Griffin (highly recommended)
Sisters of the Earth – Woman’s Prose & Poetry about Nature edited by Lorraine Anderson