The name PaGaian.
“The universe is a unity, an interacting and genetically related community of beings bound together in an inseparable relationship in space and time. The unity of the planet Earth is especially clear; each being of the planet is profoundly implicated in the existence and functioning of every other being of the planet.”
Evening Thoughts – Thomas Berry, Sierra Club Books 2006.
Thomas Berry’s principles for a functional cosmology underpin the story behind the name PaGaian, which is best described by its author Glenys Livingstone PhD.
“… it expresses a reclaiming of the term “Pagan” as meaning a person who dwells in “country”, yet with “Gaian” spliced in, it expresses a renewed and contemporary understanding of that “country”. “Gaia” is a name for humanity’s Habitat, an ancient yet new name, which I understand to include whole Earth and Cosmos – there is no seam separating Earth from Her context. And Pagan religious tradition offers a spiritual practice of celebrating Earth-Sun Creativity manifest in this Habitat.”
I was born and raised in ‘old’ South Wales (1944), close enough to spend some of my youth watching the ebb and flow of the river Taff, hence it is appropriate that most people here in New South Wales Australia, know me as Taffy. My given family names are Robert James Seaborne and my self chosen online name is malpagaia. The name malpagaia is a combining of the native Australian pitjanjatjara word ‘malpa’ – translated into English as meaning friend or helper, deliberately spliced with the name Gaia it expresses my desire to be Her friend and helper.
My choice of a pitjantjatjara word also expresses my deep appreciation for what I learned and experienced about the importance of relationship from the people who speak that language. It was a great privilege to be able to live and work among traditional owners of country in central Australia, the Anangu for eight years (1990-98). With the benefit of hindsight I enjoy reflecting on my time and experience with Anangu as a pilgrimage that was preparing me for my approaching spiritual liberation. My spiritual liberation began during the year 2000 when I met my beloved Glenys Livingstone who was soon to gain her PhD and become the author of ‘PaGaian Cosmology – Re-Inventing Earth-Based Goddess Religion’. Glenys introduced me to her spiritual practice of celebrating Earth Gaia’s significant seasonal moments as they occur in our southern hemisphere. PaGaian is the name of our spiritual practice.
The name Trotskyist.
The only meaningful political direction left now is synonymous with the only meaningful spiritual direction left now: towards the conscious re-fusion of the spirit and the flesh… This time it will be a global consciousness of our global oneness, and it will realize itself on a very sophisticated technological stage; with perhaps a total merger of psychic and electronic activity.”
The Great Cosmic Mother – Barbara Mor, Harper & Row 1987
Barbara Mor’s understanding and emphasis on the need for political and spiritual direction that are ‘synonymous’, with each other is what led me to finding the name and political story of Leonard Trotsky, who in 1938 when celebrating the founding of the Fourth International said –
“We are not a party like other parties… Our aim is the full material and spiritual liberation of the toilers and exploited…”
It was Trotsky’s emphasis on ‘material and spiritual liberation’ at the international – or better still Gaian, scale that attracted my attention.
(Here I should explain why I frequently use the word ‘story’, it is because I highly value the fact that we humans are a story telling species. All that we sense, think, imagine, and do, influences and in turn is influenced by the stories going on between our ears. This is a fact, what is not necessarily so factual is how we receive our stories and then, what we do with them; whatever your story, I strongly advise you don’t let them lie to you.)
A brief spiritual story.
My spiritual story is couched in female metaphor because beginning with my mother Dilys, it is the significant women in my life that enable me to experience my present spiritual well-being. My mother Dilys frequently reminded me that I was born lucky. Moreover, she meant it, consequently I have always believed it to be so. My first wife Carol inadvertently taught me how dangerous and futile it was to flirt with Jehovah and Christianity. My ex partner Marian rescued me from a life of ordinariness and inspired our highly valued life changing eight year pilgrimage to the desert country of central Australia. All of which paved the way for me to meet my beloved Glenys who took me by the hand and introduced me to the divine feminine, the Goddess. At the tender age of fifty-five I arrived at a profound and down to Mother Earth PaGaian ‘spiritual liberation’. My new spiritual journey has since enabled me to find and experience a more meaningful form of ‘material liberation’ and eventually a political story that I could relate to and value.
A brief political story.
My primary and tertiary education took place in Penarth South Wales and following a five-year apprenticeship on the Treforest Industrial Estate I became a qualified toolmaker. It was almost inevitable that I would vote for the political party that appeared to best serve working families; after emigrating to Australia in 1967, I voted Labor for several decades.
During recent decades the main stream political parties here in Australia have been moving further to the political right and hence it became more and more difficult for me to find any common ground between them, my spiritual practice and personal values. Finding a political candidate who could best reflected my world view and personal values was proving to be almost impossible.
Glenys drew my attention to one of her many feminist books entitled ‘The Great Cosmic Mother’ and it was the following part of the author Barbra Mor’s story that restored my interest in politics –
“A truly human politics must study the entire history of the world’s religions and spiritual beliefs. It must try to return to or move toward spiritual systems that are harmonious with all our visions of creative communal life… Because this is what is missing under both of the competing “world powers”: a creative communal life. Both systems – Western capitalism and Soviet communism – are based on the denial of communal celebration… p16
And so, we can make no separation between “spirituality” and “politics.” We are this world, we cannot leave it. We can only work to transform it as we transform ourselves, in acts of evolution and revolution… On earth, mind and spirit are definitively embodied. The notion that “mind” and “spirit” can be abstracted from the body is a patriarchal lie; and a continuance of this lie is the notion that we can indulge in a “spirituality” that is “above politics” – that somehow floats above the agony of this present earth like a little blissed-out cloud.” p417
The Great Cosmic Mother – Barbara Mor, Harper & Row 1987.
Inspired by B. Mor’s story, in 2010 I was attracted to reading the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS.org) mainly because it was about an international political story with an emphasis on social equality. The discovery of a political party that was not confined to the borders of a particular nation state and that placed an emphasis on human equality was for me a political revelation. I have since become a member of the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) making a modest monthly donation to the Sydney branch and the WSWS. I visit WSWS daily, it is now my preferred source of information about world affairs and albeit to a lesser extent, cultural information. I am particularly keen to become more aware of the ongoing ‘class’ struggle – the ongoing ‘revolution’ and how we might yet achieve a planetary – Gaian, social equality that is sustainable and appropriate for future generations.
From my PaGaian perspective the political story being told by the Fourth International and more recently via the SEP is the only political story to come anywhere near Thomas Berry’s unifying principle – quoted above, which if enacted, is capable of achieving the ‘full material and spiritual liberation’… of not only ‘the toilers and exploited’ but of humanity as a whole. I also like to think that L. Trotsky would have admired the Anangu traditional owners of central Australia, who for millennia prior to being colonised by Europeans cultivated their Lore – tjukurpa, that among other things deliberately avoided the rise of an internal ‘ruling class’ type group who might take control and have power over the larger group.Another way of thinking about this is that because of their relationship with country and kin and the organic way in which such indigenous Lore evolved, no such vocabulary nor story was able to exist between their ears.
A brief story of place and time.
During 1966 I made the decision to emigrate to Australia. It was a somewhat belated decision as I was well advanced toward emigrating to Boston Massachusetts and who knows what kind of future working for General Electrics. Instead a ‘born lucky Robert’ immediately after watching a movie about ‘a weird mob’ down under, in what appeared to be a relatively ‘lucky country’, I decided there and then, it was the place to be. So here I am having continued to be a lucky boy in a lucky country, who instead of aspiring to climb the ladder of success in an American factory ends up spending a couple of decades overseeing the forests of Victoria and managing Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park. Now I find myself working alongside my beloved Glenys as we maintain a place here in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales mainly for the purpose of ritually celebrating Earth Gaia’s seasonal moments as they unfold in this great Southern land of Her’s.
So, what is happening here and now (2013) in this so called ‘lucky country’ Australia, with its indigenous and more recent migrant population, all of whom deserve better, much better. I believe this to be true for the people of all nation states at this time.
The following is a quote of parts 5, 15 and 16 of the last of seven resolutions passed unanimously at the first national congress of the Socialist Equality Party (Australia) held from April 6 to 9, 2012 in Sydney (see: “Australian SEP holds first national congress”).See resolutions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.
“5. Vast changes in world economy over the past four decades, culminating in the breakdown of the capitalist order that began with the financial crisis of 2008, have led to the collapse of the old national-based organisations and parties that dominated the workers’ movement for decades. Today all the so-called “workers’ parties”—including the Australian Labor Party—which have played such a key role in propping up the capitalist order, have been utterly discredited in the eyes of millions. A political vacuum has opened up. The change in the objective situation has created the conditions for a profound shift in political consciousness.
15. This Congress declares that the cornerstone of the SEP’s program is to forge the international unity of the working class. The Congress denounces all forms of nationalism, racism and chauvinism, dredged up by the bourgeoisie and its political and media establishment to divert the social tensions generated by the crisis of capitalism against the most vulnerable layers of society, including refugees, immigrants and the country’s indigenous population.
16. In all the struggles of the working class, the SEP will encourage the development of new organisations, entirely independent of and opposed to the trade unions and the official political establishment, including workplace rank-and-file committees to defend jobs, wages and working conditions, and action committees to defend social rights such as education, health, housing and a safe environment. Such organisations will fight for the extension of all these struggles to encompass every section of the working class—employed and unemployed, young and old, skilled and unskilled, Australian-born and immigrant—into a common movement, across industries, workplaces and localities, that reaches out to workers internationally.”
What does it say when not even such a symbolic head of the ‘ruling class’ as Queen Elizabeth herself is aware of what is happening to her subjects?
“about the 2008 financial crisis… Her Majesty had asked: “Did nobody see this coming?” Perhaps she could also have asked three more questions: Does nobody see the suffering and socioeconomic injustices of oligopolistic-finance capitalism? Does no one see that the problems are structural and systemic? And is there no alternative to a system that generates continuous “quadruple crises” – the socioeconomic, political, environmental and personal/psychological?
Monthly Review Vol 65 Nov 2013 : p39
For me this validates that we do indeed live in an age of universal deceit, when just telling the truth can be regarded by the ‘ruling class’ as an act of terrorism eg; the whistleblowing of J. Assange and E. Snowden. For us ‘working class’ their true story telling is more like a revolutionary act.
While my usual conscious awareness and reflection is predicated on my spiritual practice, I do consider myself very fortunate ‘lucky Robert’ to have received what I regard as pragmatic spiritual and political stories that are sufficiently synonymous, I also understand that this is not and probably never will be so for the vast majority of my fellow ‘working class’. Hence there may only ever be one PaGaian Trotskyist, I hope not.
As with our spiritual vision, so too with our ecological and social vision, they are planetary by nature and PaGaian by name.
Taffy Seaborne & GlenYs Livingstone – Summer 2013.