The term ‘PaGaian’ was coined in at least two places on the Planet and in opposite hemispheres within a couple of years of each other, without either inventor being aware of the other’s new expression: it was some time before they found each other … one party (myself – in Australia) having published a book with PaGaian in the title (though the term was actually coined by my partner Taffy Seaborne, enabling the book to manifest), and the other party (Rob Blake – in the UK) having registered the domain pagaian.org. The reaching for a new word, was the reaching for a language, a power: to bring together an Earth-based – ‘Pagan’ – spiritual practice indigenous to Western Europe, with recent Western scientific understandings of the planet as a whole living organism – ‘Gaian’ as it has been named[i], and which by its name acknowledged resonance with ancient Mother Goddess understandings of our Habitat, as an alive sentient being. So, the term splices together Pagan and Gaian, and it may express a new autochthonic/native context in which humans find themselves: that is, the term may express an indigeneity, a nativity, in these times, of belonging to this Earth, this Cosmos. For myself, the new expression consciously included female metaphor for sacred practice: that is, practice of relationship with the sacred whole in which we are, and whom I desired to call Mother, and imagine as the Great She.
[i] James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis the “Gaia Theory”.
A FEW NOTES ON THE PROCESS:
from Rob Blake in early 2006:
“A few months ago, I was laying in bed, thinking about religion. I had just re-read James Lovelock’s ‘Gaia’ and was mulling over Carl Sagan’s famous quote: “A religion old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge.” Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot
Which got me thinking – why can’t we come up with a religion, or spiritual framework, that combines a ritual observance of the sacred wheel of the year with a scientifically grounded view of the cosmos? As I thought about my experiences with neopaganism, the words ‘Pagan’ and ‘Gaia’ seemed to fuse together to form ‘Pagaian’. With that thought in mind, I nipped across the road to my office and did a tentative whois search on ‘pagaian.org’. I was very surprised to find that the domain was still available, so I bought it and went back to bed.
And then work took over and nothing further happened for a few months. Back in the office one day, I decided to do a google search for the term ‘Pagaian’. The first page in the list of results was from an American publisher offering a book called PaGaian Cosmology – Re-inventing Earth-based Goddess Religion. I felt my pulse quicken as I read those words. It was immediately clear to me that far from coming up with a genuinely new concept, I had simply tapped into to the collective unconscious .
My next move was to contact the author of the book, Glenys Livingstone …”
and my reply:
Thank you for contacting me, with these unfoldings. I am amazed. Even before PaGaian Cosmology was published, my partner (Taffy Seaborne) had set up a Yahoo group for PaGaian discussion, but had not developed it though there was request from some that he do so. It was he who coined the term PaGaian in the midst of a synergistic discussion we had in December 2003, and I had been looking for a term to encapsulate what I had been synthesizing for years, with which I might entitle a published work. We used to google for PaGaian then (when we were the only ones – there was only a single hit, except for some region in Italy with a similiar name) to watch it grow.
I had identified my spirituality as Gaian for over a decade and Charlene Spretnak lent energy to that in her writings (Woman of Power Issue 20 Spring 1991), but I wanted to reclaim the term Pagan … Starhawk had visited here in Australia, and she had been one of my main teachers, and an ongoing inspiration … I do describe something of what I mean by the term in the first paragraph of the Preface of the book, and the Index has several references to it that are throughout the book. …”