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Gaia, the Return of the Earth Goddess

Gaia, the Return of the Earth Goddess

Temple worship in Ur, from Sumerian times. Note in the lower panel people are bringing all sort of goods to the temple represented as the abstract structure on the right.
House founded by An, praised by Enlil, given an oracle by mother Nintud! A house, at its upper end a mountain, at its lower end a spring! A house, at its upper end threefold indeed. Whose well-founded storehouse is established as a household, whose terrace is supported by lahama deities; whose princely great wall, the shrine of Urim! (the Kesh temple hymn, ca. 2600 BCE)
Not long ago, I found myself involved in a debate on Gaian religion convened by Erik Assadourian. For me, it was a little strange. For the people of my generation, religion is supposed to be a relic of the past, opium of the people, a mishmash of superstitions, something for old women mumbling ejaculatory prayers, things like that. But, here, a group of people who weren’t religious in the traditional sense of the word, and who included at least two professional researchers in physics, were seriously discussing about how to best worship the Goddess of Earth, the mighty, the powerful, the divine, the (sometimes) benevolent Gaia, She who keeps the Earth alive.

It was not just unsettling, it was a deep rethinking of many things I had been thinking. I had been building models of how Gaia could function in terms of the physics and the biology we know. But here, no, it was not Gaia the holobiont, not Gaia the superorganism, not Gaia the homeostatic system. It was Gaia the Goddess.

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