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The Return of Gaia
For more than two hundred years, our human culture has been dominated by modern scientific theory and industrial consumerism that evolved from it.
But prior to that time, most humans believed that the Earth was a living goddess and organized their lives to be integrated in a living system.
Here is a brief history of our long-held human viewpoint, where we got off track, and how
Our Creation Story
Virtually all cultures across place and time have a creation story. Our creation story begins by acknowledging the presence of a creative force that is beyond the physical. We’ve chosen to call this creative force Spirit.
In the beginning, Spirit simply existed. And then it decided to create the universe and all the stars and planets, including Earth, the air, the water, fire, the soil all the elements, and everything else needed to support life forms. And then Spirit created the plants and animals and humans.
All of these parts of life existed together as one creation, each interacting together with each other, each performing their function to make the whole of life survive, just as all the organs and functions of a human body perform their functions cooperatively to make a body survive and thrive.
Gaia: The Goddess of the Earth
In ancient times there were many gods and goddesses. Each region in the world had their own goddess of the Earth, but chief among them that has come down to us today is Gaia, the Goddess of the Earth, from Greek mythology.
Gaia was one of the primordial elemental deities born at the dawn of creation. In the creation myth, Chaos came first. He was a confusion of Void, Mass, and Darkness and then Gaia came into existence bringing with her all of creation.
Gaia personified the Earth itself, in spirit and body. She was both the creator and the creation. She was the mother of all life.
From the beginning of humankind, the Earth was viewed as being a living planet, and all humans were a part of that living system. All cultures that arose lived close to Nature, making the stuff of life by hand using local resources. This was their life orientation.
The Great Change
There came a point in history where a fundamental change occurred in the period known as The Age of Enlightenment or The Age of Reason. This occurred in Europe over a period of about 100 years, beginning in the late 1600s. At that time, scientists challenged the existing views of Life and established a science that described the world in terms of natural laws that excluded any spiritual source.
The long-standing concept of a living earth with spiritual forces was pulled apart. Religion and science opposed each other instead of coexisting cooperatively. This opened the door to industrial production, which started in England in 1760. Now that the Earth was no longer “God’s creation,” the land could be ravaged for “natural resources” to feed the machines of industry.
This point was so pivotal and led us humans down such a wrong path that we are doing more research on exactly what happened here. More to come on this.
The viewpoint of modern science and industrialism continued for about two hundred years.
Then one day, in 1972, we humans caught the first glimpse of Earth from space when NASA spacecraft photographed the Earth from the moon.
Just after this, British Scientist James Lovelock introduced the Gaia hypothesis that portrayed the Earth as a living organism. As such all the living organisms of the Earth interact with each other and their inorganic surroundings to form a synergistic and self-regulating, complex system that helps to maintain and perpetuate the optimum conditions for life on the planet.
And then spirituality burst open with the New Age movement.
All these influences together brought about a change of values, a change in the marketplace and a change of lifestyle, but we still live in a society that fundamentally runs on the assumptions of industrialization. What we need is a change in the fundamental principles we operate on if we are to sustain life on our planet. Life needs to be more important than profits.
Our industrial society is like a train rushing towards a cliff. We know the cliff is there, we know if we continue on our trajectory the train will fall off the cliff and we will all die, yet we can't seem to stop the train.
Debra's Experience With Gaia
Around 1990, Debra was speaking at a conference. She had been invited to speak to representatives from intentional communities on how they could live without toxic chemicals.
Debra had just been reading a book about Gaia before her presentation.
When she got up to speak, in the middle of her presentation she spontaneously said,
"I am not concerned about toxic chemicals. This will all change. We will all stop using toxic chemicals and stop any other human behavior that harms Life because the spirit of Gaia is awakening in each of us."
Everyone in the room jumped out of their chairs and interrupted her speech with a standing ovation.
What We Need to Do Moving Forward
We, Debra and Larry, collectively have been studying spirit and nature for more than 100 years. We know that sounds remarkable, but each of us became interested in these subjects as children and continued to study and gain experience and insight together as adults.
Here is what we know to be true from our study and observation of Life.
The Earth IS a living organism. It is made up of Spirit that creates lifeforms and systems and processes into a system that runs on processes that hold true whether the life form is a cell or a planet.
We humans are life forms created by Spirit, and like all other life forms, we have life because of the presence of spirit. As humans we are each individual expressions of the one Spirit and have our own free will to determine our own lives.
Our natural state as humans as intended by life would be:
- to be aware of ourselves as spiritual beings and have the ability to use our inherent spiritual faculties for good
- to use our spiritual faculties to understand and apply the processes of Life so as to integrate our human lives with the rest of Life.
These truths are self-evident. They require no scientific studies, references, or blind faith— only the observation of individuals. Anyone who observes Life can see these facts to be true.
We are all one system of Life. Humans are a life form made up of spirit and matter. We exist in the whole of life along with the trees and whales and butterflies and bees.
Understanding the parts and the whole of this system and intelligently creating a lifestyle that integrates humans with all Life is what Lifely is all about.
As we write this, the structure of our industrial world is shattering under the stresses of the covid-19 pandemic. Life as we have known it will not be the same post-pandemic.
We have an unprecedented opportunity right now to create our individual and collective lives on a new foundation.
Gaia has returned.