For the Love of Gaia by Jassy Watson


For the Love of Gaia Jassy WatsonOn January 26, 2013 a rare, devastating tornado hit our community in Queensland, Australia, a coastal town on this sub-tropical coast. My family experienced nature’s elemental force firsthand and hopefully will never again. The tornado viciously shattered houses, peeled away roofs, uplifted cars and trees, and took down power lines, tearing apart everything in its path. With absolutely no warning, literally out of the blue, it formed over the churning sea, rapidly intensifying before striking land, awakening the vulnerability and fragility of all life in its midst.

When it struck, our four kids and I were waiting in our car while my husband ducked into a mate’s house to borrow a tool. We heard the sound of a roaring jet plane overhead, as my husband came running, screaming at us to get out of the car. Turning to my left, in a vision imprinted forever, a spiral of debris flew toward us. Scrambling, we got the kids out of their harnesses and safely indoors. I lagged behind, taking care of the children first, and fell out of the side door of the van with the wind’s impact. As I got up to run, a large piece of roofing tin flew straight for my head. I dove, seeking safety under the front of our running car. My life flashed before my eyes. All of us in a state of shock, the tornado was gone as quickly as it had come, we were unscathed except for a few minor cuts and bruises. It was only a few moments before the immediate danger passed. We ventured outside to inspect the damage, destruction surrounded us.

Catastrophic events unfolded over the following days, as the worst regional floods on record engulfed our community. The Burnett river burst its banks in a raging torrent, destroying everything in its wake: houses, livestock, cars, and household contents. All manner of things floated downriver, turning the nearby sea murky and muddy. The community suffered immense grief: thousands of people homeless overnight, livelihoods and memories—for some, taking a lifetime to build— washed a way in moments. “Why us?” some asked. If a divine presence exists that cares for us and loves us, why would we be subjected to so much tragedy and trauma? Events like this either further cement our faith, or lead us off course, disenchanted with the meaning of life and its divine purpose.

Not only am I grieving for our community, I am overwhelmed with grief for Mother Earth. Humanity’s destructive imprint on this planet has become even clearer as I witnessed this disastrous event. I couldn’t stop thinking about where all the stuff washed out to sea would eventually end up. What damage will it cause to our delicate ecological system? In addition to the countless material items, agricultural chemicals now further polluted the sea, including pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilisers; agtryine, dimethylamine, deithanolamine, paraquat dichloride, amitrole, tralkoxydin, atrazine, permethrin, difenoconazole, terbutryn, fipronil, and butanone. Dangerous industrial chemicals were added to the polluted mire, including; methyl isocyanate, parathion, arsine, phosphoryl trichloride, phosgene, acrolein, hydrogen selenide, methyl hydrazine, phosphourous trichloride, diborane, bromine, fluorine, hydrogen cyanide, nitrogen dioxide, chlorine, sulphur dioxide, sulfuric acid, and on and on. The list is endless and all of it washed out to sea, which fast became a toxic soup. The “authorities,” as always, played down the environmental damage, telling us the ocean and rivers would recover. But will they? And to think that this is just one town from across the globe and these incidences are happening more and more frequently!

I can’t help but ache inside over the chemical warfare that we are waging on the planet. It is really difficult not to fall into a depression over it. Will we ever wake up to realise that the way most people are living is unsustainable? Poisoning the earth body poisons our bodies. In Gaia and God, Rosemary Radford Ruether alarmingly states that by 2030 pollution and over population will be so dreadfully endemic that it will very likely be too late. I hope that statistical evidence has improved since the 1994 publication of her book. Regardless, my heart fell heavy. I found myself caught up in the negative, forgetting about all the good being carried out in the world. (Carol Christ’s mission to save the wetlands of the Greek island of Lesvos is but one inspiring example.). I remind myself that I can exist inside hope and happiness alongside tragedy and suffering. It is possible to find peace that passes understanding. We must awaken to the fact however, that a culture of domination imperils the planet’s survival. Ruether argues that to heal the planet we must find a new set of symbols and language that transform “the interrelations of men and women, humans and earth, humans and the divine, the divine and the earth”. With this re-definition of relationships, it is hopeful that Gaia, the living, breathing entity that is our life force and the very source of our being, can be, to some degree, not only renewed, but respected. It takes people, communities, and nations to demand respect and unity for all living things. We can all take positive action and make a difference, no matter how small a gesture. Every commitment to action counts.

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For the Love of Gaia Copyright, Jassy Watson 2013

I painted “For the Love of Gaia” in response to my overwhelming grief, as I witnessed the tornado’s destruction and contamination on our doorstep. It represents an element of my pledge to do more to help heal the planet and all her beings, to be committed 100% to repairing the web. This painting is a visual expression of the Earth as a living body, our bodies as living earth. We are One and connected to every living being and organism in the universe. I painted Gaia as abundant and healthy. In her heart new life grows in the form of a tree and the baby birds in their nest waiting for their mum to deliver the worm. The bees are pollinating and the lady beetles nesting. The roses symbolise how beauty can fade in an instant; life can change in a moment. The butterflies symbolise metamorphosis: birth, death, and rebirth. I’ve covered Gaia’s body in faint spirals, for she cries tears of love. The apple, here symbolises knowledge, love, health, and abundance. Her hair descends into the earth as roots and in her hand she holds us safe…or not, delicately balanced.

Gaiatreeheart    Gaiabirddetail

Gaia’s sacred triangle remains locked. Do you hold a key?

Jassy Watsonwho lives on the sub-tropical coast of Queensland Australia, is a mother of four, a passionate organic gardener, an artist, and a student of ancient history and religion at Macquarie University, Sydney.  She runs a small business Goddesses Garden and Studio to keep women’s sacred circles, art, music and gardening practices alive.



Categories: Activism, Art, Body, Climate Change, consumerism, Earth-based spirituality, Eco-systems, Ecofeminism, Ecojustice

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

10 replies

  1. Her green body all that we know… Jass, it is so gratifying to see your work blossom after your Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete. Love you, Carol

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    • ….and all that we are. We are stunned by this beauty, and I do not forget what she is to me, and what I am to her. Thankyou Karolina xx

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  2. Beautiful powerful words and images. Thank you!

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  3. Jassy – this painting is stunning, stunning. I cry as I look at it. You capture so much in it. Thank you for your explanation of its elements. Visual artists have a talent to represent and express in color and symbols and form and motion. You are a stunning artist. And your story, how you connect being caught in a freak tornado with the current state of the world. Your list of chemicals is the new litany of our times. Add to it pharmaceuticals, hundreds of millions of barrels of oil spills, and over 180 million tons of mercury, lead, and arsenic dumped from mine waste every year. Anyone want to eat fish anymore? You live in a part of the world that is getting very hard hit by climate change. Thank you for expressing hope, but Bill McKibben points out in his new book Eaarth, that we no longer live on the planet our species thrived in for the last 10,000 years (hence the new name he gives it). http://www.billmckibben.com. We are at 393 ppm of carbon in the atmosphere. Safe is 350. They are hoping it will stop at 450, but fear it will be 650. These numbers are untenable. There was belief by some back in 1994 that reality would wake people up sooner, but reality never stopped the US government or any power that wants to succeed at all costs. Robert Gifford from the University of Victoria calls it the dragons of inaction — 27 reasons people don’t act and react to these numbers, to your story, to your continent slowly going into permanent drought.
    In my forthcoming novel The Swallow and the Nightingale, I am trying to do what Ruether suggests — create a new symbol for transformation. My main character is given a pendant. On it, it says ‘what am I’. Inside it, is a dandelion. She confronts the question, as must we all, what is a dandelion — is it a weed to destroy (as patriarchal man does) or is it a flower to thrive (as nature intended). Is an insect a vermin or a being? This is what we must ask and what we must change. Who’s in charge — patriarchal man or nature? In the book, she learns of the two controllers competing for control of the planet. She also learns that if patriarchal man doesn’t quit, we will all die.

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  4. Thank you for your comments Thea, I await eagerley for your book to be released (maybe it has already), I read your last blog and noticed that we are strumming the same string. The level of carbon you have pointed out has left me feeling sick…I love that it is a dandelion in the pendant – I was only going on about this awesome plant to someone last week. I eat lots of weeds, dandelion being one of them -however here they are considered such an awful weed because if cows eat too many it is highly toxic for them, and of course so much of our land has been cleared to keep cattle. It is just another example of man’s domination over nature – a weed is not a weed -it’s a plant! They improve the soil, make great chook food, make a great tea fertiliser and taste great in salads!! They also attract bees. I appreciate your compliments, in gratitude.

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  5. Hi Jassy, thank you. The book is not out yet. I am still having people reading it for critical feedback in order to make sure my message is crystal clear. I few women from this blog have read it and provided me great feedback. Even suggested ideas for further books in a series about these characters. You mentioned people’s stuff washing out to sea. California, where I live, is experiencing debris landfall from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami 25 months ago. Boats, houses, television, refrigerators, human remains, endless types of stuff — 25 million tons of it will be hitting the west coast of North America for the next year. In the sealed compartment of a ship, they found live striped beakfish (definitely not native to the Pacific Northwest). I read one article where a boat from a Japanese high school was identified and is being returned. After hitting our coast, the debris will join the North Pacific Garbage Patch and break into smaller pieces.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2100784/Map-25million-tons-tsunami-debris-hit-California.html
    I say all this as if it is normal, as if our planet is supposed to have a garbage patch in the ocean, as if human bodies floating 4500 miles across the ocean is a proper burial and not an unanswered question.

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  6. I loved seeing your Gaia goddess unfold in our Painting the Goddess Within group, Jassy. She is magnificent. The Mother is certainly giving us some lessons on what she can and cannot tolerate. We truly hold the key to Her and our survival.

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  7. This made me cry. I love you for sharing this. The beauty of your art and words have moved me so much. Thank you sister.

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  8. Jassy, thank you for your post and the painting! As Douglas Adams said, “Don’t panic”, and don’t despair. Think about it this way: we will not be doing anyone, including Gaia, any service by being all doom and gloom. It takes more courage and more strength than usual (which we do have) to know the facts, to look reality in the face, to tell the others, and yet to stay happy, cheerful, loving and hopeful. Which you already do, som no worries. :-)

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  9. I feel you and thank you for that painting and the post. I too feel mother earth and her need to express her anger at the world. In destroying the infrastructures we build upon her face, she breathes a little better…I am afraid for the pollution and for our children, yet I have immense faith in miracles and in life working out for the best. I believe everything is in great divine order. I know it is. And I am grateful daily for listening and doing what the great mother asks of me. She can be subtle until her needs aren’t met too many times…she is so much like us…giving and giving forgetting to need anything in return, and why should she when she’s created such an intelligent process through which she gives and receives back from life. Yet our human made world cuts her off from receiving our love, gratitude and compost. I know we will all find a happy medium between our heart our earth and our mind our jobs our families. It begins in trusting and finding the balance within ourselves.

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