The other night, after casting a circle, I performed my usual “listening” ceremony to invite the goddesses I work with to speak. Gaia is one of my primary deities, and I had called upon her from the North altar. I have a bronze statue of her there that I received at a charity auction when I thought I was bidding on a statue of Yemaya. (Another case of me not wearing my glasses.)
Gaia rarely speaks, but that night, she said something that shocked me. “That’s not me,” she said, referring to the statue of the thin, almost-naked woman holding a globe. “I don’t look like that.”
I said okay, then asked if she wanted to say anything else. She merely repeated herself. “That doesn’t look like me.” I nodded and took down the note, knowing I could no longer use that image of her in ritual.
Let me be clear: I’m not against skinny women at all. We all have different body types, genetics, and metabolisms. Hell, some people might even call me skinny. It’s not my intention to bash any womens’ bodies here. What I do want to explore in this article is the concept of our personification of the gods.
We need to think about the nature of the deity when creating an image of them. Maybe Gaia was uncomfortable with the thin woman personification because of her nature — she one of the Greek Titans, the primordial gods who existed before the Greek Pantheon. Gaia is the earth itself, just as Uranus is the sky/heavens. Because the earth is round, it makes sense that Gaia would think of herself as round, or well-rounded. Or, perhaps a personification of her being “as the earth” might be appropriate.
I do not think the current fashion-norm, as portrayed in my American culture, makes for a good personification of the deities. Take, for example, the hesitation behind the “sexy Morrigan” image. When our deities are sexualized, we should be asking why? Who needs that image?
This brings me to the rear end of the statue. It’s pushed out, as if it is presenting itself to an old-culture, heterosexual male gaze. It’s too showy, too sexualized, too icky-feeling for me.I understand we can’t always filter what society gives us in terms of advertising and fashion norms, but we can talk back and resist accepting things that don’t work for us.
Another point I want to make is that Gaia was also prolific, giving birth to the twelve other deities who begat the Greek Pantheon. It’s said she’s the mother of us all. It might make more sense to portray her as pregnant or with a post-birth body rather than stick-thin.
Why is Gaia portrayed as a maiden as opposed to a mother or even a grandmother? Or, why not portray her as the median woman, at the median weight, median height, and median age?
I realize this communication I received from Gaia is unverified personal gnosis, but who is to say the one who made her image thin didn’t receive unverified personal gnosis? Or maybe Gaia just felt that I needed to see a more well-rounded version of herself and others see her differently.
As for my practices, I’ll take her message to heart. When I asked her if I could repurpose the statue as Aphrodite, she said that was acceptable. I took the statue down from my North altar and put it on my West altar, and plan on changing the energy at the next appropriate ritual time.
I plan on getting a pregnant Gaia like the one above, at the next pagan gathering. I asked Gaia if that statue was okay for her, and she said it would be fine.
I’m looking forward to working with the new Gaia statue. Who knows? Maybe she’ll even talk to me more.