Pre-Olympian Greek earth goddess, worshiped as mother of
all. She mated with her son Uranus and bore Titans, the Cyclops,
and Hectoncheires. Worship of Gaia continued after the
rise of the Olympians, and she was regarded as a powerful influence
in marriage, healing the sick, and divination. She was
represented as a gigantic female form. Earlier cultures also had
religious concepts of a great earth goddess.
The concept of Gaia as earth goddess has been revived in
New Age ecological and mystical beliefs. On September 6,
1970, Otter G’Zell, founder of the Church of All Worlds, one
of the early modern Neo-Pagan organizations, had a vision of
the unity of the Earth’s planetary biosphere—a single organism.
He shared the vision with other church members and
wrote about it in 1971 in the periodical he edited, The Green
Atmospheric biochemist James E. Lovelock had a very similar
idea at somewhat the same time and through his books Gaia
(1979) and The Ages of Gaia (1988) emerged as the leading proponent
of this modern Gaia hypothesis of the earth as a living
organism. His books propose a dynamic interaction between
life and environment, with earth regulating life, and life regulating
earth, virtually a single self-regulating entity.
The controversial aspect of Lovelock’s concept is the extent
the earth may be regarded as a living organism in which life
and environment form one dynamic interacting whole. Although
not unsympathetic to modern environmentalism, Lovelock
proposes a broader frame of reference, and in The Ages of
Gaia states ‘‘At the risk of having my membership card of the
Friends of the Earth withdrawn, I say that only by pollution do
we survive. We animals pollute the air with carbon dioxide, and
the vegetation pollutes it with oxygen. The pollution of one is
the meat of the other.’’ The Gaia hypothesis has stimulated
New Age and Neo-Pagan veneration of Gaia as a living earth
goddess and become an integral part of the revival of goddess
worship in the last two decades.
The modern Gaia hypothesis was earlier prefigured by such
writers as Gustav Fechner (1801–1887) and Francis Younghusband.
Derrey, Francois. The Earth is Alive. London Arlington
Books, 1968.
G’Zell, Otter. Gaia A New Look at Life on Earth. London Oxford
University Press, 1979.
———. ‘‘Theogenesis The Birth of the Goddess.’’ Green Egg
21, 81 (May 1, 1988) 4–7, 27.
Olson, Carl. The Book of the Goddess, Past and Present. Philadelphia
J. P. Lippincott, 1983.
Pedlar, Kit. Quest for Gaia. UK Sovereign Press, 1979.
Stein, Diane. The Women’s Spirituality Book. St. Paul, Minn.
Llewellyn Publications, 1987.
Younghusband, Sir Francis. The Living Universe. London
John Murray, 1933.