by Glenys Livingstone Ph.D.
Amongst Celtic peoples, the capacity to speak poetically was a divine attribute, regarded as a transformative power of the Deity, who was named by those peoples as the Great Goddess Brigid: She was a poet, a Matron of Poetry (along with her capacities of smithcraft and healing). And at Delphi in Greece, the oracular priestesses delivered their prophecies in poetic form: Phemonoe invented the poetic meter, the hexameter. And from Sumeria, humans have the first Western written records of literature, which is poetry written by the High Priestess of Inanna, Enheduanna in approximately 2300 B.C.E.. Poetry has been recognised as a powerful modality: Barbara Mor and Monica Sjoo described “poetic thinking” as an wholistic mode, wherein “paradox and ambiguity … can be felt and synthesized. The most ancient becomes the most modern; for in the holographic universe, each ‘subjective’ part contains the ‘objective’ whole, and chronological time is just one aspect of a simultaneous universe” (The Great Cosmic Mother p.41).
Poetry could be described as an “Earth-centred language”: it has the capacity to hold multivalent aspects of reality, to open to subjective depths, to allow qualitative differences in understanding. Hence it is especially suited to expressing and bringing together a multitude of beings. Cosmologist and evolutionary philosopher Brian Swimme and the late cultural historian/geologian Thomas Berry have called for such a language – the kind of language “until now enjoyed only by our poets and mystics” that may express the “highly differentiated unit”, the organic reality such as Earth is (The Universe Story p.258-259), and such as “Gaia” was understood of old, and in recent scientific theory: that is, Earth is understood as a highly differentiated unity, which any expression must aim to emulate.
I have always understood the ceremonial celebrations of Earth’s Seasonal Moments, such as I and my community have created over decades, as Poetry: it is not a ‘discourse’ or a theory, or a ‘study’ of something such as a theology is, or even as a thealogy may be. It is a speaking with our Place, this Habitat, which is understood to be alive and responsive, and deeply complex: how else may we speak with our dynamic Place of Being, who is always much more than we can imagine? The ceremonial celebration of the complete cycle of Seasonal ceremonies, wherever one is on our Planet, and in all the diverse possibilities, may be experienced and recognised as a Poiesis: that is, the intention is to make a world, to participate in “an action that transforms and continues the world” … the sacred ceremonies when engaged in fully, are a method of action. They may serve as a catalyst for changing of mind, for personal and cultural change.
The practice is a re-creation of and participation in, what I name as Gaia’s Womb: a name for the whole sacred site in which we live. The sensing, the embodiment of this sacred site in which we are immersed, may be created with the practice of ceremony of Earth-Sun transitions, the Seasonal Moments, however they manifest in your place (see note below). It is the regular conversation throughout the whole annual cycle – the sacred gestalt – that creates the womb, the space of integral relationship with Source of Being … whom one may understand as the Great She birthing all, other and self in every moment.