The Triple Spiral – A PaGaian Heritage For These Times

This is an edited version of the original published in MatriFocus Lammas/Imbolc 2007 Vol 6-4

hallway images-4

The Triple Spiral of Bru-na-Boinne (Newgrange)

As I write this, those of Earth-based religious traditions in the Southern Hemisphere have just celebrated Samhain and are approaching the Seasonal Moment of Winter Solstice. The Poetry of the season is actually the waxing towards manifest form, for it is in the peaking of darkness that the new is born: the fullness of the Dark Womb ripens to Birth, and Origins are celebrated. Imbolc will carry this through with its themes of nourishing and dedicated attending of young and vulnerable being. This creatively connected flow may be identified Poetically[1]with the three aspects of Goddess – Old One/Crone, Mother and Young One/Virgin respectively, in a movement towards manifestation – syntropy.

For those in the Northern Hemisphere, the concurrent Seasonal Moment as I write is just post-Beltaine and approaching Summer Solstice: the Poetry of the season is actually the waxing towards dissolution of form, for it is in the peaking of light that being is poured forth, consumed. The fullness of radiant form ripens to Harvest – to Death, and fulfilment of purpose is celebrated: all is given over. Lammas carries this through with its themes of “making sacred” and opening to Larger Self – the sentience within. This creatively connected flow may be identified Poetically with Young One/Virgin, Mother and Old One/Crone respectively, in a movement towards the ‘manifesting’ – entropy.

I understand the Poetry of both Solstices as celebrations of the Mother aspect of the Triple Goddess, for both are gateways, entrances, places of interchange between manifest and manifesting, places of communion. One is birth to small, particular self – which eventuates in the power of Being: and one is birth to larger undifferentiated self, immersion in cosmic sentience – which eventuates in the power of Loss. One is the ‘Om’ – the Alpha: one is the Omega … the new being of Winter poured forth in Summer. At Winter Solstice the new being, the return of the light and graciousness for Sun’s regenerative powers, may be represented with the lighting of candles. At Summer Solstice the fulfilled being, the return of the dark and graciousness for consummation, may be represented with the rose, a full flower or ripe fruit: it is a closing as much as it is an opening.

We live in times that are a closing … we are peaking in the use of much of Earth’s ‘resources’ built up over millennia: it is a kind of Summer. That is, most of us reading this are reaping a harvest of lives embedded in the use of Earth’s ancient minerals and oil, living on the crest of a wave. There is a flowering, and there is a withering, and a return to the very planetary conditions that created the ‘resources’. Or is it a kind of Winter? … a full darkness? Will a new entity appear?

There may be a sense of confusion, as we begin to sense a whole planet and witness a scale of planetary changes unprecedented in human memory.  And it all seems to be happening so quickly: there is a kind of chaos as we leave the known tracks.

We as Earth have found ways to plumb our depths, and our desire has not met sufficient resistance until now to slow us down, to cause us to pause. It as if we are globally at Beltaine – in a froth of passion and desire: we humans as a species will go for it until it ‘ends’, until we are returned to a space for transformation. Is it already a Samhain Moment? … Gaia-Earth is in meltdown, She is a global chrysalis perhaps – will the butterfly emerge? We are the transformations of the Ages, and we receive the transformations of the Ages – both the end and the beginning: Old One/Crone ever-transformed, Young One/Virgin ever-new. We may feel it in our times: we witness the planet being consumed, we are consuming the Planet. After the consuming there is the ‘wake’, there is Lammas. How do we come to terms with a global Lammas Moment? How do we manage immersion into Larger Self – letting go of the Beauty of so much form? Can we bear witness to the Not-Yet, the New Young One of the Imbolc Moment, which is as seamlessly connected to Lammas, as the foetus is to the womb: it/She cannot Be without this Darkness.  Gaia’s timeframe is different from ours. It may well be beyond our imagination, well into the future – a long haul, but the Not-Yet will surely come into being, as surely as thechlorophyll molecule was co-created by Earth and Sun, as Earth reached for nourishment; as surely as the ear was co-created by subject and sound, as the subject reached for an unknown signal … as surely as the prokaryotes became eukaryotes.

We live in a Cosmos that has ever changed – nothing stays the same. We humans as a species are part of that change, both as agent and recipient, creator and created.

Perhaps … what we are witnessing is the whole Wheel ‘of the Year’ all happening at once. It is a Mabon too, as more than ever it seems, we live in times of deep grief for all that is being lost, and yet we might hold hope for the re-emergence – an Eostar … as many do, who feel that we are witnessing the re-emergence of much lost wisdom. The ‘Wheel’ then may be understood (again?) as a Cosmic one – the Pagan becomes Gaian, or perhaps “Gaian” has returned to Herself as Cosmic – as we Gaian inhabitants have our indigenous sense of Place/Land extended to a sense of Earth-Gaia as a whole, and seamlessly connected to Herself as Universe-Gaia: a unity of Being. With the witnessing of the reciprocal Seasonal Moments at once on the planet – held within each other, even blurring, into a ‘fuzziness’ of perception, we may pull to Center perhaps. The Seasonal Moments may truly be ‘thresholds’, sens-ible gateways to the Center, which is omnipresent Creativity. What may essentially be celebrated in the seasonal moments of transition are the Cosmic processes of Creativity – Cosmogenesis, the unfolding Cosmos, present in Earth-Gaia, and within each being, in every Moment. It is an eternal process in which we participate: She has a track record of some 13.7 billion years as far as we can tell, but in any case it is an eternity for the purposes of our consciousness.

I have come to identify this Cosmogenesis – the Creative Unfolding of the Cosmos as represented by the Triple Spiral of Bru na Boinne – of ‘Newgrange’, as it is commonly known. With the insights of archaeologist Marija Gimbutas into the repetition of the threes in early human art[2], the work of Martin Brennan who spent long periods of time on site at Newgrange[3], and using the work of cultural historian Thomas Berry who also identifies ‘three basic tendencies  of the universe at all levels of reality’[4], integrated with organic research and ceremonial practice, I have come to understand the Triple Spiral as a multivalent representation of the Creative Dynamic unfolding the Cosmos. This motif may represent Earth, Moon and Sun in their creative dance; it may represent three aspects of Goddess as She was known in that local Place; it may be originally Lunar; it may represent the waxing, peaking and waning of all being; and many other layers of poetic expressions relating to ‘becoming’.

The Triple Spiral holds within its embrace the dualities in a creative balance: the light and the dark, joy and sorrow, birth and death, manifest and manifesting, which are in constant flux and which are expressed in the reciprocal seasons – the polar opposites … each Seasonal threshold contained within its mirror image, seething with the other. One cannot Be without Other at the very same time. And every breath repeats this triplicity – this pattern of Cosmic Creativity.

We are integral with our Place – ‘PaGaian’ is how I describe it, and our Place is as much within our own skins as anywhere: women particularly have learned this over the last decades as we consciously found the Cosmic Dynamics alive within ourselves. Each being is a Creative Place of Cosmological Unfolding, She is threefold, and may be celebrated in Earth’s holy annual pilgrimage around Sun.

I offer a breath meditation that may express this connection[5]: a PaGaian Breath Meditation

Going within for the moment and becoming aware of your breath,

 feeling this cycle within.


With your imagination, remember all the breathing happening right now on the planet – feel/sense it with each breath.

The entire planet is breathing.


Remember the constant dawning and setting of the Sun – happening right now,

 as Earth turns … the constant dawn and dusk.


Remember the constant facing into the light of the Sun – our Star,

and the constant facing into the dark of the Cosmos,

happening right now,

as She turns …

 the constant moving fullness of light and dark on opposite sides of the planet.


Remember the constant coming into being and passing away happening right now,

as She turns.

The entire Wheel as we celebrate it is happening right now

– all at once.

We are at the Centre of the Wheel.

She waxes into fullness, and wanes into darkness – She grows into form, and dissolves back into that great Plenum from which all emerges.

There is in every moment:

constant novelty – infinite particularity – Virgin,

constant communion – infinite relationship – Mother,

constant dissolution – trans-formation … making way for the new – Crone.


Feel this breath, your breath. We participate

 in Her constant Creativity,

from this Centre.

© Glenys Livingstone 2007


[1]I capitalize this term, as I use it in the sense of a language – a Gaian or Cosmic language – much as one would capitalize “English” or “French”. “English” or “French” are not generally thought of consciously as “sacred” media, although the terms are frequently treated as such. “Poetry” is definitely being used to refer to a sacred medium. For more discussion of my choice to capitalize certain terms, see PaGaian Cosmology, iUniverse 2005, p.xii.

[2]See Marija Gimbutas, The Language of the Goddess, p.89-97.

[3]See Martin Brennan, The Stones of Time.

[4]See Thomas Berry, Evening Thoughts, p. 145. Also Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry, The Universe Story, p. 71-79.

[5]Glenys Livingstone, PaGaian Cosmology, p.260-261.


Berry, Thomas.Evening Thoughts: Reflecting on Earth as Sacred Community (ed. Mary Evelyn Tucker). SF: Sierra Club Books, 2006.

Brennan, Martin.The Stones of Time: Calendars, Sundials, and Stone Chambers of Ancient Ireland. Rochester Vermont, Inner Traditions, 1994.

Gimbutas, Marija. The Language of the Goddess. NY: HarperCollins, 1991

Livingstone, Glenys. PaGaian Cosmology: Re-inventing Earth-based Goddess Religion. NE: iUniverse, 2005.

Swimme, Brian and Berry, Thomas. The Universe Story. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

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