Whether or not you are Australian this small book is packed with information. It is also a source of useful questions about the history and nature of emerging Goddess spirituality and has certainly set me thinking. One of the things I like about the book is that it is well organised, leading you systematically through an account of global as well as local experience of Goddess spirituality. There is a refreshing degree of academic rigour and it feels clean because the authors have used surveys to include as many Australian voices as possible both male and female. Gaia Emerging certainly puts the Australian Goddess community on the map, naming and honouring their movers and shakers. It articulates the issues of foreign influence, particularly British and American and the need to create a genuine Australian vision and practice. Whilst the core values are similar to other Goddess communities, these are mostly Northern Hemisphere and so it is vital to translate them to attune with Southern cycles, Australian landscape, flora and fauna and also indigenous culture whose continuing relationship with land is our most ancient heritage. I also recognise the need to avoid recreating colonialist attitudes whilst honouring the European (especially Celtic) roots that belong to many Australians.
The book premises archaeology, feminism, neo-paganism and ecology as sources of interest in Goddess. There are some useful issues posed about future development, such as; addressing the need for academic and theoretical models, how to include male and men within the community. The widespread nature of the community in Australia is suggested as a reason for reading being the commonest source of involvement. We may be familiar with Anique Radiantheart, Shekhinah Morgan and Vickie Noble, but I am glad to know about women such as Frances Billinghurst, Gai Lemon, Thea Gaia and Glenys Livingstone. There is advantage to having a history that is not too cluttered with past and which has the energy to create a new vision of future and I like their tripartite model of ‘Goddess Within, Between and Around’ as ways of addressing personal, interpersonal and transpersonal values. I commend my Australian sisters in their work, their community feels vibrant and fertile.
Gaia Emerging is available from the Gaia’s Garden website.