Book Review by Ruth Rosenhek, environmental justice activist, psychotherapist, eco-psychology, Director Rainforest Information Centre, Deep Ecology: published in EINGANA, The Journal of the Victorian Association for Environmental Education, Vol 29 Number 1, April 2006.
When Glenys Livingstone says that she wants to be part of the re-creation, to actually “do” something new, she does. Livingstone succeeds by offering us a creative and bold account of “PaGaian Cosmology”, a contemporary understanding of Pagan religious tradition brought together in a cosmology that is based in the indigenous female-related religions of ‘Gaia’.
Reinventing language as she goes, Livingstone spins us in a spiral dance that begins with an explanation of methodology that is as fascinating as the re-storying of the Female Metaphor that follows: an account of Goddess in Her three aspects of Virgin, Mother and Crone. Livingstone adeptly captures our imagination as she passionately associates Her with Cosmogenesis, the Unfolding of the Cosmos –introducing us to Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme’s three dynamics of the Universe: differentiation, communion and autopoiesis.
Livingstone goes on from there to embody the Female Metaphor in Seasonal Ritual as we are served up a practical and engaging hands-on description of the 8 seasonal time/space celebrations from the Wheel of Life including scripts from rituals that the author uses in her celebrations in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia
The reader feels like she is at the Samhain ritual itself consuming gingerbread snakes to “devour old shapes of our culture, our world, transform them in our beings.” The spell is cast as we easily imagine wrapping ourselves in golden thread, lighting the candles, anointing each other with oil, and joining with Persephone to plant bulbs as we tend our sorrows.
Livingstone effortlessly waves her wand to weave together strands from a broad spectrum of authors and theorists – Brian Swimme, Thomas Berry, Mary Daly, Charlene Spretnak, Starhawk, Jean Houston, Lynn Margulis, Joseph Campbell, David Abram, James Lovelock – in a rich and colourful tapestry that knits together paganism, Goddess religion and Cosmology. Throughout, Livingstone adds a light touch of the personal that waltzes gracefully with these others.
Thoughtfully, Livingstone offers the reader detailed references, notes and comprehensive index making the work useful as an academic text .
Glenys Livingstone’s book is a fine example of what she refers to as Geotherapy, a term coined by Brian Swimme to speak of how the vision of the whole story of Earth, of the Universe may enable the human to proceed from the present alienated pathological mode of being to wholeness – as we learn our Story.
Here, our Story is brought to life in a stunning example of what Thomas Berry calls The Great Work. This is a compelling invitation to join in a devotional practice of celebrating PaGaian Cosmology, “becoming receptive to Gaia’s speech, heard deep within and deep without…We come to feel the infinite belonging and to act in accord.”