It’s hard to begin a discourse on Gaia without moving into poetry, song and dance. Such is her love for us that I immediately bow in awe for the bounty she offers.
In the time before time
I heard a call from the cosmos
of such illustrious beauty
answering the call of Gaia
to help her seed a new land
where love was all
and yet have I to yearn for the affections of another
Who is Gaia?
Quite simply, Gaia is life. She is all, the very soul of the earth. She is a goddess who, by all accounts, inhabits the planet, offering life and nourishment to all her children.
In the ancient civilizations, she was revered as mother, nurturer and giver of life. It’s she who created and sustained us, and to whom we returned upon death.
She goes by many names, but in an effort to better connect and understand this energy, we'll explore the myriad of forms in which she appears on Earth.
Ancient Ways and Goddess Traditions
Every culture has their version of the Earth Goddess. The Greeks called her Gaia, while the Incas know her as PachaMama. In some cases, she predates writing: ancient, pre-linguistic references to her have been found, alongside shrines, statues and paintings of her in every corner of the globe. She is the first goddess, the primeval one, the creator of all life and the fullness of her legacy is still being resurrected after patriarchal suppression.
The paleolithic Venus figures dot all of Europe, hearkening a worship of the feminine earth mother which has been lost to us. Despite the efforts of many historians, archaeologists and artists, we’re only now beginning to remember the stories of the goddess.
In any sincere effort to unearth her, we must look to the oldest documented accounts.
Gaia in Greek Mythology
To the Greeks, Gaia was the ultimate goddess of raw, maternal power. In the beginning, there was chaos, nebulous ethers waiting to take form. This primordial landscape awaited direction; it’s then that the spirit of Gaia arrived to give structure to the formless and the Earth was conceived.
She became the Earth, birthing all form of landscape, plant and creature. Though her creation was majestic, her solitude was great. She longed for love and created the sky with whom she mated, igniting a creative force which birthed countless offspring: Time and the Fates, the Muses and the oceans, to name a few. She’s considered the primeval mother of whom all gods—and life itself—descended.
As the prevalence of gods and goddesses in the 19th and 20th centuries faded away, so did history books’ tales of female pharaohs, women scientists and amazon warriors. History is kept by the victors—and the victors are most often men. This left a void in collective consciousness and Gaia was relegated to mythology alone.
With the convergence of feminism in the 1970s, all that changed when a groundbreaking pro-female establishment was founded, providing new understanding of how our planet operates.
The Gaia Theory
In 1970, chemist James Lovelock and his research partner Lynn Margulis (the wife of Carl Sagan at the time) proposed that the earth is a living being, self-regulating the elements to sustain life on it. This revolutionary hypothesis was seen as heretical, but has since been accepted as fact; a theory, no longer a hypothesis.
Their work suggested that in the earth chemicals all “talk” to one another to protect life on the planet; the salt in the ocean is never too salinated, the oxygen in the atmosphere never too noxious, and the temperature of the earth never grows too hostile for life to thrive. All elements work in perfect harmony to ensure life on earth is sustained.
The stability of life and its consistent ability to self-regulate and protect earth's creatures connotes a universe much more intelligent than previously imagined.
Gaia theory taught that a sophisticatedly aware universe is regulating these many facets to protect and preserve life on the planet, much as a mother protects her own children.
Far beyond a comforting ideology, we can find evidence in spiritual traditions which give heed to the belief of the earth as a loving mother, further nurturing our human relationship with Gaia.
Resurgence of Gaia
A new curiosity about the history and meaning of Gaia has recently been sparked. Men and women have begun to seek to understand this innate consciousness. What they’re finding is far from surprising, as the idea of characterizing the earth energy is present in the wisdom of two of the most enduring native traditions, Chinese medicine and Native American theology.
Chinese Five Element Theory
Among the oldest healing modalities on the planet is Chinese 5 Element theory. Before Mao Tse-Tung instituted a politicized Traditional Chinese Medicine, there existed a theory based not only in physical, but rooted in a spiritual understanding of life. Five Element theory honors the Earth energy as maternal, warm, nurturing and joyous. Abundant in its gifts, earth’s energy is the sound of laughter on a late summer day.
If someone has an unbalanced earth energy, they could fear security, develop eating disorders and may never feel satisfied in life. It’s these qualities of being fulfilled, complete and secure that earth gives us.
Native American Medicine Wheel
Equal in its enduring wisdom, the Native American Medicine Wheel is a way of understanding our world as practiced by every indigenous nation. By working with the directions or elements, we can be in harmony with nature.
On the wheel, the earth lies in the south and is the ruler of bounty, expansive growth, passion, peace and relationships. To work with the earth energies of the south ensures we are in communion with the spirit of abundance, joy and creation.
Both ideologies are based in an understanding of the world as interwoven and infinitely more complex than Western beliefs convey. Though from different parts of the world, both teachings characterize the energy of earth as the same: loving, generous and maternal, a protector of people and the planet.
Far beyond the mythological Gaia, the name has come to represent an all-loving, nurturing and intelligent cosmic force which oversees life on earth. The goddess traditions have worked tirelessly to resurrect the ancient teachings of the Great Mother and ensure her presence as a force of love on the planet.
More than saving the planet or participating in Earth Day celebrations, we can treat everyday like a ceremony. To be in a sincere connected relationship with Gaia, we must acknowledge her sundry gifts and be open to receive her wisdom.
Ways to Be Present With Gaia
In her infinite love, we may forget to acknowledge all the bounty she offers. Here are a few spaces to reconnect, remembering the loving presence of Gaia all around you. To be in ceremony in every moment allows us to rise as co-creators with her now.
See your food as sacred nourishment. This will not only raise your vibration but it will also ensure more mindful presence when you can be aware of where the blessings came from. She not only provides the crops, but also the earth in which they grow.
From the wood under your feet to the aluminum siding surrounding you and the tar on the roof overhead, all these materials are grown on or in the earth. Be in awe of her myriad of blessings.
Whether or not you've been zapped by the crystal bug, you can probably recall seeing a mineral specimen whose beauty moved you. Every jade, amethyst, diamond and shard of obsidian came from Gaia. In her love, she creates the most stunning specimens to support and ease our human existence.
The magnitude of healing plants is astounding. From fresh flowers, to trees, mushrooms to bark, every culture understands the blessings of the plants to heal human ailments.
Pay attention to the plants around you to hear the messages they may be trying to share. Chicory for example is a common weed that grows freely even in the most impoverished areas of urban landscapes. Chicory is an extender spirit, making coffee go further in times of economic depression. If we could remember to use the natural resources of Gaia, we could eradicate or lessen hunger.
Time in Nature
Dr. Joe Dispenza recently reported: “In clinical studies we have proven that 2 hours of nature sounds a day significantly reduces stress hormones up to 800% and activates 500-600 DNA segments known to be responsible for healing and repairing the body.”
To amp up your healing connections, try earthing.
Respect of Natural Resources
It hopefully goes without saying, but being mindful of recycling and limiting your use of synthetic resources will be a great blessing to honor the preservation of Gaia.
The Great Destroyer
While it’s easy to become infatuated with the beauty of Gaia's gifts, she’s also the great destroyer. As children, at times we will upset mother—so too is this the case with the Great Mother Gaia. Her generosity can be taken advantage of, her lands raped and people harmed.
Just as we disappoint our human mothers and consequences are dispensed, so too does Gaia balance out the injustices she suffers. Famine, extreme weather, volcanoes and tsunamis are the ways she rights herself and restores balance. While these actions could look punitive, it’s destruction in order to create something better which she must enact. Even in chaos, there is purpose beyond what our human minds can see.
By moving into better alignment with her, these unpredictable forces can be ridden with ease and understanding.
Meditation: Connecting with Gaia
Sitting on the earth would be most ideal for this meditation, but as we are working with her Spirit, find any comfortable sitting position and begin to slow your breath.
Bring your awareness gently into your hips and let all the energies of the day go. Focusing on this pelvic bowl, allow your breath to expand all the way down into your abdomen. Bring anything which causes discomfort or distress there now.
See beneath you the earth, open to greet you, and a red and gold spiral of light begins to glow at your perineum. This light spirals into the earth, ushering you into her most sacred center.
Feel yourself gently drifting to the center of the earth, into her cosmic womb of creation and destruction. You will feel a natural resting place and appreciate the serene calmness around you. Sit in this quiet and be with the calm energy she offers.
If you wish, ask for a figure of Gaia. You may see her as a woman, a goddess, a color or a symbol. Whatever arises is perfect for you now and will offer a meaningful tool to deepen your relationship with her.
When you feel finished, thank her and allow your attention to come back into your body. Open your eyes slowly and celebrate your newfound connection.
Shifting to Honor Gaia
Each time we honor Gaia and all she represents, we honor the love of a living and present universe around us. In these ways, we’re participating in the expansion of a cosmic consciousness.
Your intimate work with her will remind you resolutely that there’s always more than enough and all of your needs are provided for. By being in this awareness, you can see through the illusions and understand the beliefs that are truly damaging our planet. It’s only through shifting our own perceptions that we may link with the consciousness of Gaia to change the earth.