Chapter 13: Gaia
Gaia, the archetype of Mother Earth, is not one of the classic Jungian archetypes,68 but I consider it to be one of the central archetypes in our times. Gaia is a personification of our planet, most notably of its lifegiving forces; it is often seen as the symbol of life and nature. In the Greek pantheon Gaia was one of the primordial deities, Prôtogenoi, the fi rst creatures in the history of the world that gave birth to all creation.69 She was worshipped as the mother goddess, omnipotent, not always caring and protective, but imperious or even cruel. As Mother Nature she appears in mythologies and folk tales, including Slavic, Nordic, Babylonian and many Indian mythologies. She also appeared in medieval legends, in a metaphorical shape, though she was not worshipped in this epoch as a goddess. Today we tend to think in terms of broader ecosystems or even to view the whole planet as a system supporting the rise and development of life, subject to evolution, self-regulating, and striving for survival as a whole. The planet’s sum of its ecosystems is the biosphere, or the system joining all living organisms and their mutual relations, including the atmosphere (air), the hydrosphere (water) and lithosphere (earth). The archetype of Gaia draws attention to the importance of the biosphere in our value systems and to the primordial nature of life on Earth. It also shows the precedence of nature over culture and civilization.
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