Saturday, June 10, 2006

A Brief History of the Myth and Meaning of Gaia

Recently, a friend who has read this blog asked the question, "What does Gaia mean?" In one of those "Aha!" moments, I realized that many people may not know what I mean by naming this site "Gaia Garden."

So a quick explanation is in order.

For starters, in Greece, one of the earliest goddesses was Gaia, the Earth Mother (or Mother Earth, if you prefer). She was considered to be one of the founding goddesses, born of Chaos, and giving birth to the sky (Uranus) and the sea (Pontus), and sometimes, by some, to the mountains (Ourea). Without going into a great deal of detail, she was basically the original goddess, giving rise through her progeny to essentially the entire pantheon of Greek gods and goddesses. Eventually her progeny became more well known than she was.

Fast forward a LONG, LONG time (in human history) to the mid 1960's. An atmospheric scientist, James Lovelock, proposed that the Earth is a self-regulating organism. He called this "the Gaia hypothesis," after the old Greek concept of "Mother Earth." It took quite a few years and collaboration with Lynn Margulis, a biologist/microbiologist, but this hypothesis has now gained a fair amount of scientific credibility and generates a lot of scientific work in the field of ecological science. In short, now "the Gaia hypothesis" is often used as the more poetic name for current areas of science investigating Earth's homeostatic systems, or ways of maintaining its temperature, atmospheric mixture of gases, and other life-supporting systems.

In less scientifically rigorous ways, the concept of Gaia has come to symbolize the interconnectedness of life and the planet on which we live.

So in naming my site, "Gaia Garden," I'm trying to emphasize the concept of gardening by working WITH nature's processes, rather than by trying to "tame" those processes or "overcome" them. And in a rather idealistic way, I guess I'm trying to explore generally living in an "Earth-centered" way, at an "Earth-centered" pace too. Faster and busier hasn't necessarily proved to be happier or healthier or even more productive for many people. Maybe it's time we remember we're part of Earth, part of Gaia, and start honoring her and living by her guidelines.


prairiewolf said...

A perfect explanation and description of your approach to our corner of the environment

qkslvrwolf said...

And for anyone who's never been in her gardens, I can assure you, she succeeds. Every where we have moved has been turned into a small nature sanctuary. Its amazing.

Gaia gardener said...

Thank you, guys.