What attitudes and practices can we cultivate in ourselves that will help us attune to our Gaia-nature? (Remembering that we already know deep within us that we belong to Gaia’s Green World.)
My sense is that the people reading this already lead a spiritual life of some kind. But let’s do a quick check to make sure our existing beliefs and practices are attuned with Gaia as well as they could be. (Read my previous posts to flesh out these ideas.)
Does your path/liturgy/doctrine focus solely on the direction Up, and disregard or even denigrate the direction Down? Hmmm…some adjustment may be called for here.
Do you primarily focus on, pray to or visualize a male deity or God? You may want to try making room for His partner, the Divine Feminine, the Goddess and Her many reflections, as well.
And, the clincher—is your religion or spiritual path concerned only with human salvation, transformation or perfection? Even if it doesn’t explicitly deny the worthiness of non-human beings, might it embody a belief that human beings are the pinnacle of evolution, and that you are entitled to relate to the rest of Creation only in relation to yourself and your “journey”? If so, it’s time to expand your spiritual aspirations to encompass the vast more-than-human world of which humanity is only one component. Indeed, the linchpin of Gaia-centered spirituality is to know ourselves as part of, not separate from, the rest of Nature.
Make no mistake: the idea here is to support and enhance true human greatness as much as we can. Indeed, humans have a crucial role to play in the survival and thriving of our beautiful Earth. But our contributions can only be successful if we begin by completely surrendering to knowing ourselves as just one part of Gaia’s Green World, not the masters of it. Then we can begin to make important alliances to foster regeneration and vitality in the land.
Many ancestral traditions speak of making alliances with other physical and spiritual beings. The deep meaning of an alliance is that all of its members are considered to be equally important, and, in fact, their collective power lies in the merging, the synergy, of their perspectives and gifts. One of the most important alliances we can make is one between our human self, a creature of the land, and a spiritual being of Nature.*
Everyone, no matter what their race or heritage, can develop special relationships with certain animals and plants of the natural world, in both their material and spiritual reflections. Out of respect, I resist using the indigenous word “totem.” I prefer to say “wild companion,” or, in RJ Stewart’s words, “spiritual creature.” We must take care not to grandly declare some lofty, impressive animal or bird to be “ours” without a long period of study and attention. We might find, in fact, that a seemingly humble animal or plant—a chickadee or gopher, moss or sagebrush—is disposed to ally with us. In any case, we need to show, consistently and without a doubt, that we consider ourselves to be a respectful equal and not an entitled superior. Demonstrating this respect might include, for instance, bidding a friendly “good day” to the wild creatures and plants one sees, and taking care not to stare at, say, a bird or fox if doing so seems to make them uncomfortable. Reorienting our relationships with the natural world is a long but fruitful process, and depends on coming to know ourselves as simple members of our local ecosystem, unique but not superior in any way.
Similarly, Gaia-connected humans can seek alliances with the (usually) invisible, spiritual beings of the land. In the Western magical tradition, we refer to these beings as Faery beings. In the Afro-Brazilian tradition that I participated in for many years, they are called Orixás, and here in New Mexico they might be referred to as Kachinas. These beings can range from relatively simple and local entities, to the vast presences of entire regions and ecosystems. In any case, there is a lively community of powerful Nature beings around us wherever we are, even in the cities.
When we stop thinking of all these beings as potential “helpers” to us, and instead have the intent to ally with them on behalf of Gaia’s wholeness, we can begin to build strong partnerships that can do useful work to bring resilience to the Sacred Land.
*See the books of my friend and mentor RJ Stewart for detailed information about the Old Faery Tradition, which is based on such alliances: Earth Light, Power Within the Land, and The Well of Light are particularly useful.