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     "Well, for instance, who is this All-Mother you're always talking

     "Why, you are, Edward. . . The All-Mother.  You're the All-Mother,
I'm the All-Mother, that little bird singing out there, it's the
All-Mother.  The All-Mother is everything.  The All-Mother is life..."
     The primal and supreme deity of the ancient world, the oldest and
most universally worshipped, was the Great Mother, Mother Earth.  Images
of Her date back to Aurignacian Cro-Magnon peoples, from 27,000 years
ago, and are found all over the Eurasian continent from Spain to
Siberia.  For thousands of years before there were any male gods, there
was The Goddess, and Her worship continued unabated clear up until its
violent suppression by Iron Age patrism.  When and where worship of the
Mother prevailed women and Nature were held in esteem.  The Chinese
called Her Kwan Yin; the Egyptians knew Her as Isis; the Navajo call Her
Changing Woman.  To the Greeks She was Gaia, and to many black peoples
She is Yemanja.  She is Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, and She says: 
"All acts of love and pleasure are my rituals."  She is also the ancient
Crone Hecate,who gives us both wisdom and death.  The Goddess is
diversity.  She represents both darkness and Light and Her worship is
the reconciliation of opposites.  There can be no such thing as a "Good
Goddess" or an "Evil Goddess".  Death is part of the natural cycle as
night follows day and we accept it with grace as Her final gift.  The
search for Balance is the goal of Her people, and it is achieved by the
acceptance of multiple paths and truths.  Dion Fortune once commented
that all goddesses are manifestations of the One Great Goddess whose
identity is as the universal feminine spirit of Nature.

     The eldest and greatest aspect of the Goddess is as Great Mother

Nature, the all-encompassing energy of Universal Life.  Her womb is the
Quasar, the white hole through which all energy pours into creation, and
Her all-devouring mouth is the Black hole itself through which all
matter is consumed to be reborn once again as between Her thighs the
universe is squeezed from spirit.  Her energy then coalesces into
Matter-Mater:the Mother of all forms. She ignites, becoming the Star
Goddess Nuit, whose galactic breast is our Milky way.  Of Her are born
star systems and planets including, of course, our very own Earth
Mother, Gaia.

     Because of the diversity of the Goddess, She is seen as manifesting
in many different aspects.  She is often called The Triple Goddess,
which refers to Her link in the fertility cycle where She appears as
Maiden, Mother and Crone.  Some ancient cultures personified this
Triplicity as the waxing, full, and waning Moon, and other three-faced
Goddess aspects are familiar to us as the Fates, the Graces, the Furies,
the Muses, or even as Faith, Hope and Charity.  Another familiar
division of Her aspects is into Mother and Daughter (Demeter and
Persephone), or as Sisters/Lovers (Fauna and Flora).  Such polarities
are also important in Her worship.  Sometimes the polarity can exist
with two different aspects of the Goddess representing both poles, but
more commonly it is the great gender polarity, for the Goddess is a
deity of sexual loving.     

     She is Ishtar or Aphrodite, the eternal Lover who awaits with eager
arms the mortal man brave enough to risk Her immortal favor.  Many men
have worshipped Her as a lover, but she may never be possessed, for She
belongs only to Herself.  She is Parthenos, the eternal Virgin (in the
prepatriarchal meaning "of her own household").  She represents the
Strong Woman : not dominant, but independent.  Her lovers are not truly
human but divine.  She has been the Beloved of many gods, and though
jealous male gods eventually suppressed Her worship, She shared the
co-rulership of Heaven and Earth for thousands of years of marital
bliss.  She is the inescapable Yin necessary for the cosmic balance of
Yang/Yin.  Symbols associated with Her (the Tree of Life, the Sacred
Serpent, the Labryrinth) are found in all parts of the globe, at the
heart of all the Mysteries, and underlying all the later accretions of
successive religions.  The search for Her is the search for our deepest
ancestral roots.I am the star that rises from the twilight sea.I bring
men dreams to rule their destiny.I am the eternal Woman; I am She!The
tides of all souls belong to me-Touch of my hand confers polarity-These
are the moontides, these belong to me.

                           Honor Thy Mother
     In all the cultures where She is still worshipped, there is no
confusion over Her identity : She is Nature, and She is the Earth.  She
is not an atavistic abstraction, not a mystical metaphor, not a
construct of consciousness.  Her body is of substance as material as our
own, and we tread upon Her breast and are formed of Her flesh.  "Walk
lightly on the bosom of the Earth Mother," says Sun Bear, and tradition-
al Native Americans agree.  Cherokee shaman Rolling Thunder emphasizes
that "It's very important for people to realize this:  the Earth is a
living organism, the body of a higher individual who has a will and
wants to be well, who is at times less healthy or more healthy,
physically and mentally."3  Frank Waters, author of Masked Gods and Book
of the Hopi, makes the same point::. . . To Indians the Earth is not
inanimate.  It is a living entity, the mother of all life, our Mother
Earth.  All Her children, everything in nature, is alive:  the living

stone, the great breathing mountains, trees and plants, as well as birds
and animals and man.  All are united in one harmonious whole.4        Renowned historian Arnold Toynbee, writing on "The Religious Background
of the Present Environmental Crisis," also observed that:For pre-monoth-
eistic man, nature was not just a treasure-trove of "natural resources". 
Nature was, for him, a goddess, "Mother Earth," and the vegetation that
sprang from the Earth, the animals that roamed, like man himself, over
the Earth's surface, and the minerals hiding in the Earth's bowels, all
partook of Nature's divinity.5     Before ever land was, before ever the
sea, Or soft hair of the grass, or fair limbs of the tree,  Or flesh-
coloured fruit of my branches, I was :         And thy soul was in me.

                            The Gaia Thesis
     In order to understand the nature of the Earth Mother, we must
first understand our own origins.  Biologically, unisexual organisms are
always considered to be female, since only the female brings forth life
from her own body; in the act of reproduction single cells are referred
to as mothers and their offspring as daughters. Each of us began our
individual life as a single fertilized cell, or zygote.  In the process
of its innumerable divisions and multiplications, that cell kept
dividing up and redistributing the very same protoplasm.  That
protoplasm which now courses through all of the several trillion cells
of your adult body is the very same substance which once coursed through
the body of that original zygote.  For when a cell reproduces, the
mother cell does not remain intact, but actually becomes the two new
daughter cells.  And this is why, no matter how many times a cell
fissions in the process of embryological development, all the daughter
cells collectively continue to comprise but one single organism.      We
may imagine that, should our cells have consciousness akin to our own,
they may very well fancy themselves to be independent entities living
and dying in a world that to them would seem to be merely an inanimate
environment.  Blood cells race along our arterial highways, but we know
them to be in fact minute components of the far vaster living beings
that we ourselves are.   Over three billion years ago, life on Earth
began, as do we all, with a single living cell containing a replicating
molecule of DNA.  From that point on, that original cell, the first to
develop the awesome capacity for reproduction, divided and redivided and
subdivided its protoplasm into the myriads of plants and animals,
including ourselves, which now inhabit this third planet from the
Sun. But no matter how many times a cell fissions in the process of
embryological development, all the daughter cells collectively continue
to comprise but one single organism.  All life on Earth comprises the
body of a single vast living being:Mother Earth Herself.  The Moon is
Her radiant heart, and in the tides beats the pulse of Her blood.  The
protoplasm which coursed through the body of that first primeval
ancestral cell is the very protoplasm which now courses through every
cell of every living organism, plant or animal, of our planet.  And as
in our own bodies, Earthly life was biologically female for the first 3
billion years, before sexual reproduction, complete with males, evolved
around 600 million years ago.  In evolutionary theory we say "ontogeny
recapitulates phylogeny" (the development of the individual repeats the
development of the ancestry);  ancient people anticipated such scien-
tific ideas when they intuitively conceptualized our planetary Divinity,
like that first single cell, as feminine:  our Mother Earth.  
  The soul of our planetary biosphere is She whom we call Goddess.
First life on my sources first drifted and swam.  Out of me are the
forces which save it or damn.


Out of me man and woman, and wild-beast and bird.  Before God was, I
am.6". . . Be the terror and the dread of all the wild beasts and all
the birds of heaven, of everything that crawls on the ground and all the
fish of the sea: they are handed over to you."   (Gen. 9:2-3)          

     Since the time of the Exodus, 3,500 years ago, Western Civilization
has been pursuing a course that has taken it farther and fhree great
monotheistic religions of the West, Judaism, Christianity and Islam,
have from their beginning activity suppressed the worship of the
Goddess, and have tortured and brutally murdered millions of Her people. 
Today, she is all but forgotten in the hearts of Her children, and Her
body lies raped and ravished in the wake of human progress.  The Goddess
is the concept of feminine divinity incarnate.  The denial of feminine
divinity results in the oppression of all women, including Mother
Nature.  As Toybee says:The thesis of the present essay is that some of
the major maladies of the present-day world:for instance the recklessly
extravagant consumption of nature's irreplaceable treasures, and the
pollution of those of them that man has not already devoured:can be
traced back in the last analysis to a religious cause, and that this
cause is the rise of monotheism. 5

     This is not to say that all non-monotheistic religions have a
perfect track record for the treatment of women in those societies. 
Certainly Hindu cultures revere various goddesses and yet are among the
more sexist and female-suppressive societies in the modern world. 
Nevertheless, there is abundant archeological evidence to indicate that
things were not always as they are now, especially in truly ancient
societies like India.  Before the Aryan Indo-European invasion around
1,500 BCE many Neolithic and Bronze Age cultures, including the Harrapan
culture of the Indus Valley and the Minoan people of Crete, had
societies that appeared remarkably egalitarian.  These societies were
universally characterized by the worship of a powerful Great Mother whom
the Hindu people still call Maha Devi Ma.  She was later broken into a
multiplicity of minor goddesses which were demoted to the position of
wives or concubines of the gods.    By the time sacred writings were
codified in the Vedas, the Primal Goddess Maha Devi in India had been
divided into a triplicity of goddesses characterized as Creator,
Preserver and Destroyer:  Saraswati, Laksmi and Kali; respectively the
consorts of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.  In  Greece, a similar process led
to Kore, Demeter and Persephone (or Hecate) created from the original
Cretan Rhea.   Once the Great Mother had been married off She became
easier to control and the way was paved for  Her dowry of natural wealth
to be handed over to the financial control of Her divine consorts. 
Whether this new mythical development was a simple mirror of  the social
diminishment of women's rights or whether it preceded it and was invoked
as a justification is really a moot point.  But the land, formerly tied
to matrilineal territorial clans, passed into the hands of patriarchal
kings and princes who began to treat it as their private property and to
lay waste to the forests in order to build vast temples and palaces to
house their harems and other slaves.  The Goddess of Nature went from
the position of being  the body and soul of all that lives to that of a
wife, mother and household servant.  Many traditions have given lip
service to the so-called "Female Principle," either in the form of a
divided identity like the Hindu Shakti or as a semi-divine emanation. 
But the power of the Goddess of Nature has gradually lost its ability to
inspire the necessary respect and reverence once accorded to the Source
and Bearer of Life.


          Where are You, then, Mother, whose strength was before All
other powers?  Your name is the only freedom.8    Pantheism is the view
that everything in Nature is alive, and that all living is Divine.  In
that context, then,  the simplest explanation of Divinity is as "an
energy field created by all living things.  It surrounds us, it
penetrates us, it binds the galaxy together." (Star Wars:  "The Force") 

Thus a pantheistic theology of Immanent Divinity ("Thou Art God/dess")
contrasts sharply with the theology of Transcendent Divinity ("God is
Out There") presented by most of "The World's Great Religions."  Unlike
the God worshipped by Christians, Moslems and Jews, the Goddess is not
an all-powerful, indestructible, non-physical being who created the
world and exists apart from it.  Though Mother Nature is Life on the
universal scale,  Gaia, the Earth Mother is the very soul of this living
planet, and she lives or dies as all life on this planet lives or dies.
. .  Mother, not maker; born, and not made.  Though her children forsake
her, allured or afraid,  Praying prayers to the God of their fashion, She stirs not for all who have prayed.O my children, too dutiful
towards Gods not of me,  Was not I enough beautiful?  Was it hard to be
free?     For, behold, I am with you, am in you, and of you:  Look forth
now and see!6  "Earth Mother, Your Children Are Here!" Current environ-
mental crises are legion.  Chlorofluorocarbon chemicals are destroying
the ozone layer in the atmosphere; industrial pollution is creating the
greenhouse effect which will melt the polar icecaps, drowning the
coastal regions; and  the destruction of the rainforests and the
pollution of phytoplankton in the seas is causing worldwide droughts. 
The problems are so vast and the politics of greed and corruption are so
complex that it will truly take a miracle to reverse such global
destruction.  The only thing that can save us is a total and electrify-
ing change of consciousness.  Nothing short of a worldwide realization
of our planetary awareness will bring home the desperation of our
plight.  We must activate our Gaian identification so that we regain our
shattered empathy with the Spirit of Nature.  We must become one with
the Earth Mother in order to feel Her pain/our pain and make it stop
before the cancer we have become reaches the terminal phase.

     The word religion derives from the Latin re-ligio; "relinking." 
The very purpose of true religion, then, is to heal the rifts and
alienations which have caused us to become separated from the divine
Source of Being:  the rifts between humanity and Nature; between matter
and spirit; between mind and body; between man and woman; between our
own egos and the Soul of Nature.  Recent books analyzing the trends of
our wayward world have, with increasing frequency, been calling for a
return to the worship of the Mother.  So many wistful comments made by
writers such as Merlin Stone, Mary Daly, James Lovelock, Judy Chicago,
Dolores LaChapelle, Rene Dubos, Daniela Gioseffi, Paolo Soleri,
Elizabeth Gould Davis, Arnold Toynbee, Joseph Campbell, Marija Gimbutas
and Riane Eisler reflect a craving for such a religious revival.  The
truth is that such a revival has been going on for some time now:since
the early 1960's:in the form of what we call the Neo-Pagan movement
(from Latin paganus:"peasant" or country dweller:Paganism now refers
to all nature religions).  To the several hundred thousand Neo-Pagans
who have been actively practicing and publishing for more than a quarter
of a century, the greatest mystery of this religion is its continuing
obscurity and invisibility to those such as the above-named writers, who
continue to publish books advocating such a movement as this, while
remaining ignorant that it is already in effect.  The new Paganism
encompasses many Nature-oriented groups such as Feraferia, Church of All

Worlds, Madrakara, Bear Tribe, Venusian Church, Pagan Way, Church of the
Eternal Source, Odinic Fellowship, Reformed Druids, Earth Church of
Amargi and Children of the Earth Mother.     The largest contingent of
modern Goddess-worshippers, however, is found in Witchcraft, or Wicca. 
Wicca is a pre-Christian European Pagan magical tradition; European
Shamanism.  The violent suppression to the point of eradication of the
followers of Wicca by the Inquisition can only be compared to the Jewish
Holocaust of Nazi Germany (estimates of the number of martyrs run as
high as nine million!), but today the Craft is making a powerful
comeback on the wings of the re-emergent Goddess.

     The Neo-Pagan movement, and especially Feminist Witchcraft, has
recently been joined by increasing numbers from the Women's Spirituality
movement and lately also by many thinkers from the Deep Ecology movement
and even such radical environmental activists as Earth First!.  These
are some of the forces which form the core of the movement to restore
the Earth Goddess to Her rightful place; a movement which has its roots
in the combined studies of feminism and ecology and is the logical
spiritual application of such studies.  If Witches can be priestesses of
feminism, then Neo-Pagans are the chaplains of the ecology movement. The
overall movement, though variously called Eco-feminism and Ecosophy, is 
truly an attempt at expressing Gaian Spirituality.     These three
streams of spirituality:Deep Ecology, Goddess Spirituality, and
Neo-Paganism:have met and mingled with Native American, Hindu,
Tibetan, Hawaiian and other ancient spiritual teachings and fused
somewhat with the more nebulous New Age Movement.  What is struggling to
be born from this blending of pathways is a truly planetary religious
metaphor that will transcend all the tradition-specific patterns in the
same way the idea of Neo-Paganism absorbed and united a multiplicity of
wildly differing but basically polytheistic religious groups in the
1970's.   Perhaps what we are looking for could be called Gaean
religion, because at the heart of our Unity is our identity as children
of the same Mother:Gaia Herself; Mother Earth.  It is said that it's a
wise child who knows its own Mother!    A  brief  digression on 
etymology  here:  Who is Gaia, that we would name a movement after Her? 

The name Gaia is the Greek name for the Earth Mother Goddess, She who
was created by Light and by Love from the primal cosmic chaos. Pierced
by the arrows of Eros, Gaia gave birth to all the plants, animals, gods
and goddesses and of course the human race.  So Gaia is the Mother of us
all according to ancient Greek mythology.

     From the moment that the people of Earth achieved the ability to
observe the image of our planet spinning in all Her radiant blue-and-
white splendor through the black velvet night, we have been impelled
towards planetary identification.  We must inevitably begin to think of
ourselves as one planet, one people, one organism.  The power of that
image alone unites us, not to mention the concept that the past
three-and-a-half billion years of terrestrial evolution resembles one
vast embryogenesis.  Something is developing, hatching, unfolding as a
self-reflexive mind capable of contemplating its own existence.  Gaia
developed  increasingly complex eyes and extensions of Her eyes/our eyes
in order to contemplate Her own image.  And now, having seen Herself
through our satellite eyes, She is awakening to consciousness.  She has
a face, an identity and now even a name, and so we inevitably come to
identify ourselves through Her as Gaian.

     A Gaian movement would be deeply committed to communication and

education.  Many tribal people and many of the old nature-based folk
religions such as native Australians, Hawaiians, Siberians, Tibetans and
Americans have come to the brink of extinction rather than to allow the
mysteries of their sacred rites to pass outside their tribes.  Others
have realized the need to become more eclectic if they are to survive. 

     The Gaian movement is presently small and largely unrecognized,
since it is anarchic and not evangelical, but it has tremendous
potential in having no single head and presenting a genuine answer to so
many of the world's problems.  Its vision is, in fact, an idea whose
time has come.  Yet there are still many obstacles, and revolutions in
consciousness rarely happen overnight.  The greatest forces operating
against a new Gaian renaissance are inertia and apathy. the watchwords
of the .70s and .80s.  But winds of change are blowing, and by the time
the century turns we will see that once again Goddess is Alive and
Magick is Afoot!And you who think to seek for me -Know that your seeking
and yearning will avail you naughtUnless you know the Mystery:That if
that which you seek you find not within you,You shall never find it
without.For behold: I have been with you from the beginning,And I am
that which is attained at the end of desire.9

1. Mack Reynolds, Of Godlike Power, 1966, pp. 146-1472.
2. Dion Fortune, "Charge of the Moon Goddess"
3. Doug Boyd, Rolling Thunder, 1974, p. 51
4. Frank Waters, "Lessons From the Indian Soul," Psychology Today, May 
5. Arnold Toynbee, "The Religious Background of the Present Environmen 
 tal Crisis," International Journal of Environmental Studies, 1972,   
Vol. III
6. Algernon Charles Swinburne, "Hertha"
7. Tim Zell, "The Gods of Nature; The Nature of Gods," Gnostica #15,   
8. Ramprasad Sen, Grace and Mercy in Her Wild Hair; 18th Century Bengal
9. Doreen Valiente, "Charge of the Star Goddess" 
(This article was first written in 1978; revised and updated in 1990.)


Next: The Church of All Worlds, a Brief History