So, I’m looking at and admiring my Gaia statue, marveling at the artistry and inspiration that Oberon Zell had when he designed her and I began thinking about the information contained in the pamphlet that came with her. Yes, twelve or so years after I adopted her, I still have the paper she came with. I enjoy reading it every now and again. Especially the portions that talk about The Gaia Hypothesis (now Gaia Theory) by James Lovelock. Another scientist has created what he calls “The Medea Hypothesis” intending to downplay the Gaia Theory. In any case, he showed a lot of ignorance in the claim being made that “Mother Earth wants to kill us.”
Mother Earth, or Gaia as I prefer to call Her, has never been the nicey-nice namby-pamby all-for-our-good personification that this guy apparently believes Her to be. No, Gaia can be a bitch when She needs to and I think splitting Her into two different beings, Gaia (good) and Medea (not so) is incorrect. Medea, if you aren’t familiar with her, is another name from Greek mythos who murdered her children as a revenge tactic for Jason (of Golden Fleece and the Argonauts fame). Medea was a priestess of Hecate and the two sons were killed because Jason, their father, abandoned her and she wanted to punish him… Or that is how the story is usually told. But I won’t digress.
I personally believe that there is some truth and accuracy to the Gaia Theory. In a nutshell, the theory claims that the planet is sentient and able to maintain a needed balance of organisms upon it, similar to the actions of our own bodies when seeking self-preservation. For Gaia, everything upon and within the earth is a part of Her being. All animals and plants and stones and molecules are ‘cells’ of Her macrocosm. Even the atmosphere is part of Gaia’s consciousness and She knows how to keep Herself and Her species protected.
I remember part of an article that I read a couple of years or so ago, that talked about pack-ice suddenly moving in and freezing ships in the Arctic that were there to hunt seals. The ships were totally immobilized and the people upon them were doomed to freeze to death if they didn’t leave the boats and go with rescuers. The hunters did their best to study the ice and climate and such to suit their purposes, when out of ‘nowhere’ this happened to them. To my mind, that was Gaia’s intelligent response to the hunters in a move to protect Her seals.
When explaining the Gaia Theory, Lovelock stated:
“It appeared to us that the Earth’s biosphere was able to control at least the temperature of the Earth’s surface and composition of the atmosphere. Prima facie, the atmosphere looked like a contrivance put together cooperatively by the totality of living systems to carry out certain necessary control functions. This led us to the formulation of the proposition that living matter, the air, the oceans, the land surface were parts of a giant system which was able to control temperature, the composition of the air and sea, the pH of the soil and so on as to be optimum for the survival of the biosphere. The system seemed to exhibit the behavior of a single organism, even a living creature. On having such formidable powers deserved a name to match it; William Golding, the novelist, suggested Gaia – the name given by the ancient Greeks to their Earth Goddess.”
Nowhere in that theory, or in the Wiccan/Pagan worldview and philosophy does it state that Gaia’s sole directive was to protect human life. As the author of this article felt the need to address Wiccans in the first paragraph of his work to inform us that our Earth wasn’t a push-over, which he mistakenly thought was the Wiccan view, I feel the need to counter by saying that Medea is not needed as a dualistic point to this. Gaia covers it all entirely. So, thank you snarky Medea-hypothesis person for bringing this point to light, but please get your info straight.
Gaia is intelligent and the provider and supporter of life and despite the human arrogance fostered by our supposed supreme intelligence, She is not here to be dominated or subdued, but to be respected and honored. We are not given any special privilege over other life forms or species and we certainly aren’t guaranteed a free-pass from the threat of extinction of our kind.
If you still mistakenly believe that humans are the superior species on the planet and everything else must bow down to us, I suggest taking your superior self and going for a swim in the bayous of Louisiana with the gators, or perhaps for a dip in the ocean with some sharks, or maybe you’d rather roam around in the jungles of India and pet some tigers… Or perhaps closer to home, you’d like to wrestle with some grizzly bears. Those are just examples of humans being humbled by animals. There are also folks who believe humans are superior to Gaia Herself. How about standing out there and stopping an erupting volcano, flowing lava, an earthquake, tsunami or avalanche if you really feel like you’re dominant over the planet.
Environmentalists, bless their well-meaning but misdirected hearts, at least understand a part of this. People out to ‘save the Earth’ need to at least be honest with themselves and let go of that same arrogance that has led to multiple forces of destruction that we and other creatures have succumbed to in that. We aren’t trying to save the Earth, we’re trying to save ourselves. Which is still a worthwhile cause, but call a spade a spade. The Earth has been around for billions of years, and Gods permitting, will continue Her cycle around the sun, being a source of life and beauty in our universe, while it is pretty much a foregone conclusion that humankind will eventually become extinct.
Yes, we should recycle and be responsible caretakers and denizens of Gaia, working to clean up this mess that we’ve created and the havoc we’ve wreaked, but acknowledge that She is the one who decides if we’re going to be here in the next century, next year, or even tomorrow.