Thursday, December 24, 2015

Thoughts on Pax Gaia at the Holidays

Pax Gaia (the Peace of Earth) is the most compelling challenge of our time. Geologian, Thomas Berry introduced this theme after 9/11 in an essay reflecting the urgent need to embrace a cosmology of truly comprehensive Gaian  peace. It is a peace that transcends Pax Romana (the peace of an empire) and Pax Humana (peace among humans). 

"We are called as an evolving humanity to the Great Work that engenders Pax Gaia. To this end we create and foster deep cultural therapies that address the deep cultural pathology of our time that has brought about such ecological damage."

 (T. Berry, Evening Thoughts, 2006) 
"Only now can we see with clarity that we live not so much in a cosmos (a place) as in a cosmogenesis (a process) -- scientific in its data, mythic in its form."  
~ The Universe Story by Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry  

The Winter Solstice was perhaps the earliest universal holy day, celebrated in different ways   throughout the world from the earliest days of human culture. When language was young, when even the gods and goddesses had not yet taken human forms in the human imagination, but ran instead with deer in the forest, flew with the wings of crows, or were glimpsed nameless from the awed depths of every numinous pool, sensed as Presence in the depths of caves........ even then, the Return of the Light was a holy day, a day of celebration. 

Long ago ancestors lit fires to welcome the "shining god" who was the sun returning from mysterious underworld depths. They built stones or made circles or created doorways to be aligned with the sun's pathway. They lit fires as sympathetic magic, fires to light and imitate the Sun's passage (which is why we still light candles, and Christmas lights, today, although no one remembers.........)

Welcoming the Sun, they left offerings of food to show their gratitude, and invented songs or danced throughout the longest cold night, encouraging, helping the Sun on its  difficult journey to the promise of new life.

I remember at this Holy/Wholly/Holiday  Day that holy days begin among our most ancient, instinctual roots, taproots that reach down, deeply entwined within the visible and invisible web of  Gaia's life

Planet Earth turns her face toward her star again, circling in brilliant orbit, bearing every evolving, responsive, living, infinitely intertwined be-ing within her fragile, exquisite azure skin on her long journey.   

Perhaps we sense, as the sun rises,  that pre-verbal, instinctual knowing, found hidden beneath the pages of any book written with five fingered hands, beneath each inscribed layer of words, signs, hieroglyphs, pictures in jet or ochre or sepia, luminous beneath the oldest pages.  A veneer peels away, revealing a pentimento, an ancient heartbeat, shared again with all beings that keep vigil on the long night of the winter Solstice.  

I pledge allegiance
to the soil of Turtle Island,
and to the beings
who thereon dwell
one ecosystem in diversity
under the sun
With joyful
interpenetration for all.

Gary Snyder


Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Beautiful! I think we still feel that instinctual knowing.

Gail said...

thank you for sharing. I am blessed to have found you those many years ago.