Friday, June 10, 2011
The Goddess Series- Gaia.
Whether it's Gaia, Gaea or Ge, the theories concepts and stories surrounding this goddess and scientific theory are all fascinating. I first came into contact with Gaia from the idea and theory that all life is connected together. It is a fascinating theory and is pretty popular among certain circles of pagans. The idea of Mother Earth has always been a popular concept with general society. A combination of myths and theories has evolved Gaia to be a very important Goddess to consider in our paths.
Writing this, however, has made me feel a little like the terracotta Gaia in the picture at the left. There is so much information to sift through on the internet, but when it comes to finding her in classical mythology, it becomes almost irritatingly bleak. Gaia tends to get reduced to small paragraphs that describe her as "name for the earth" or "Greek personification of the earth as a goddess". If you travel to some of the sites I have listed, you will see that some of them span pages beyond pages of information on Gaia. I found separating information based on the original mythology and archeological research, and which is based on personal gnosis and belief has been a challenge. However understanding each of these aspects is important to understanding the importance of Gaia to our society today.
Gaia was the grandmother of Zeus, mother of Titans, Cyclops, and more in ancient Greek mythology. She represented what we would call today "Mother Earth". Some call her the first female, some consider her the ultimate creator in Greek mythology. She was born of pure chaos, and birthed the sky, and then went on to bare more children with the sky. She was described by Hesiod as having birthed the heavens to surround herself in and be a home for the gods. If any single goddess can be credited with the "Mother Earth" title, Gaia is it.
In July of 1971, Oberon Zell wrote a paper for the Green Egg, titled THEAGENESIS: The Birth of the Goddess, introducing the concept of the earth being an interconnected spiritual force. Now I have never been a huge Oberon Zell fan, but I do like the way he presented his ideas for this particular article. He broke the idea down to the cellular level and then compared the Earth itself to the human body. On the cellular level he states that when a cell reproduces or divides, it leaves part of itself in each of the new cells. This idea connects every living organism on the cellular level. He goes on to further explain how different ecosystems are like organs in a body. Each one has a different role to play on making the entire unit work. Natural disasters and weather are a part of this unit, everything that happens on the Earth is geared towards the greater good of itself as an organism seeking its own survival.
In the 1960's, James Lovelock came up with the theory that the earth was a self regulating all encompassing organism. It uses all life and even non-living compounds to regulate the environment for the best possible conditions for life. An example of this process is clouds formed over open oceans. Algae from the ocean emits a large sulfur molecule, which is then becomes the condensation nuclei for raindrops. Eventually the cloud moves to land and the sulfur molecule returns to the terrestrial ecosystems. Many processes on the Earth have been measured with this theory including global temperature, atmospheric content, ocean salinity, and others. Solid research and development is always coming to light in regards to this theory and backing it up. If you are a scientific mind, you should definitely look at some of the research out there.
I love the idea and theory that the Earth is a single organism in itself. What I don't agree with is that we refer to it as a woman or a Goddess. Yes, I believe that the earth in itself is a divine force, but a balanced one that is genderless. But the Earth itself is comprised of duality on many levels. We create life by the joining of male and female to make a new being. Oberon Zell claims that even genderless organisms are referred to as females in the scientific community. However, when it comes to the aspect of Divinity of the organism of the Earth, I feel that it is important to distinguish between genderless and gendered. When doing scientific research, it is said that by simply observing a subject, we change it. By giving a gender to the Earth, we are changing the nature of it. We try to view the Earth based to our predetermined ideas of a woman by giving it a gender, when it not always is. Viewing it without gender allows us to see the Earth as a more natural and primal force, the breath of life. When we only view half of the duality, we are given an unbalanced world view.
Regardless of the gender of the Earth, I think that it is most important to consider the idea of the earth being all connected into one unit. It connects us all with every person and culture, with every rock and stone, with ever plant, we are all here for survival and survival of the planet is crucial for all of us. If we all incorporate this idea into our daily lives, we become more aware of what we do to each person and our environment, we are doing to ourselves and the planet as a whole. This in turn allows us to actively see the changes we make on the individual scale, change the world. Raising our children to be good conscious Earth loving individuals is better for us all. What we are doing as mothers and parents is one of the most important jobs we have ever had. If this is the lesson the goddess Gaia has for us than she too can earn her place as one of the great mother Goddesses.
Gaea: terra-cotta statuette. [Photograph]. In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/media/5606/Gaea-terra-cotta-statuette-from-Tanagra-Greece-in-the-Musee
Bulfinch's Mythology, Thomas Bulfinch, 1855.