Faq

General Questions (3)

Eco-Spiritual (or Eco-Psychological)
From the WikiPedia Article: Eco-Psychology

Ecopsychology studies the relationship between human beings and the natural world through ecological and psychological principles. The field seeks to develop and understand ways of expanding the emotional connection between individuals and the natural world, thereby assisting individuals with developing sustainable lifestyles and remedying alienation from nature.

Intentional Community
From the WikiPedia Article: Intentional Community

An intentional community is a planned residential community designed to have a much higher degree of teamwork than other communities. The members of an intentional community typically hold a common social, political, religious, or spiritual vision and often follow an alternative lifestyle. They typically share responsibilities and resources. Intentional communities include collective households, cohousing communities, ecovillages, communes, survivalist retreats, kibbutzim, ashrams, and housing cooperatives.

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The Tribe of Gaea is currently located in the hearts and minds of Arcas and Chrysalis EarthSoul. We have not yet completely decided where it will be established, but we are taking a serious look at the Central or Western Missouri areas.

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No, but we can understand why you ask.

Some people in North America associate the words “tribe” and “shaman” with Native Americans. We are not Native American by ethnic descent, nor do we lay any claim on explicitly Native American cultural practices. Arcas and Chrysalis were born in America, but are of European descent. It is anticipated that most Gaeans will be of similar descent, since our cultural inspiration is Old Europe.

We are a “tribe” in the generic sense, in that we live together communally, and share a common cultural heritage and spiritual life. We make no claim to be a part of a cultural tribal group or association established under law.

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Life in the Tribe (2)

In the Tribe of Gaea, we are not trying to be an indigenous people, claim indigenous heritage rights, or otherwise claim any kind of official status or recognition in that manner.

Indigenish is a term we use to indicate that we take our inspiration from certain characteristics commonly found among indigenous peoples, and from what we know of Old European indigenous culture in particular. While no two peoples are exactly alike, and it’s hard to make universal generalizations about what indigenous peoples are like, we try to remain true to the spirit of the Old European cultural mindset, which is centered around an honoring of the Divine Feminine as it is manifest in Nature, and we use some of their symbols, such as the water-bird, owl, and snake as totemic symbols. We share egalitarian values that are evident from the Old European settlements, which displayed little social stratification. We honor our bodies through eating a diet that is reminiscent of theirs, and we are unafraid to show our bodies, using clothing primarily for protective and symbolic purposes, not to hide in shame.

There are other things that we draw on from anthropological studies of those cultures, but due to fragmentary knowledge of our own ancestors’ ways from Old Europe, we also borrow some practices from other indigenous peoples, but nothing that could be laid claim to by any one culture. For example: If we use aromatic smoke incense that another culture uses, it’s only because it is locally available to us, sustainably harvested, and it gets the job done– we make no claim that we are doing things “The Native American Way” (as an example). If we wear an animal headdress in a ritual setting, it’s because such headdresses are common to many indigenous cultures. Eagle was not a major sacred animal to the Old Europeans, so we don’t use eagle feathers for our ritual garb (and it would be illegal to do so in the US, since we are not Native Americans). However, Owl was sacred to them, as was Heron, so we see no problem with humanely harvesting feathers from these birds (such as obtaining molted feathers from a bird sanctuary) for our regalia.

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We strive to make each meal in the Tribe follow the general guidelines of a hunter-gatherer and/or early pastoral diet. In general, this means we eat a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, berries, and nuts in a relatively unprocessed, natural, and chemical-free state. We also consume animal products from natural, non-industrial sources. We prefer fermented raw (unpasteurized) dairy products like yogurt and cheeses for their probiotic nature. Our goal is to grow/raise most of our own food. Until then, we prefer to obtain it from local farmer’s markets, CSAs, and/or hunting/fishing.

This is our “gold standard” for diet, and hearth meal planning is done according to these principles. However, individuals are free to use their luxury allowance to purchase their own snacks or eat non-conforming meals as they will outside the Tribe, as they feel would contribute to their lives. For example, going out for business lunches or social events in the community. In these cases we encourage staying close to the principles of the diet for the sake of the member’s health, but don’t mandate it.

As far as encouraging children to eat healthy, we issue vouchers to them for indulging in treats. They have to earn their treats with a certain amount of healthy eating (money allowance is tied to chores, treat vouchers are tied to eating healthy). This creates a flexible rationing system for them. They can save up vouchers for a big treat, or use their vouchers more frequently for smaller treats. Certain treats and snacks also don’t require vouchers at all (for example, desserts that are made in accordance with the diet’s principles, like apple-slices dipped in a honey-sweetened yogurt).

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Religion in the Tribe (5)

We are inspired by the ancient Goddess images from excavations of Old European sites. Unfortunately, their languages have never been translated, and we do not know what they called their Goddesses. However, the Ancient Greeks wrote of the war between their gods, the Olympians, and the previous set of gods that inhabited the area, the Titans. The Titans are largely portrayed by the Greeks as powerful, inhuman beings who cared little for mankind. A violent transition to the worship of a new pantheon of gods is a common occurrence throughout the Old World: the Indo-Europeans invaded an area, then supplanted the gods of the native peoples with their imported pantheon. Often, a mythological “war between the gods” occurs, with the Indo-European gods victorious to one degree or another. Of course, it is the victors who write the histories.

The Titan, Gaea, was the Earth herself. In Hesiod’s Theogony, we read about Gaea being impregnated numerous times by her brother/husband Ouranos, the god of Sky/Heaven, bringing forth an entire generation of Titans. The worship of Gaea was one which persisted even into Classical Greco-Roman times, and she was honored as “Mother Earth”, being known to the Romans as “Terra”. To this day, when we speak of “Mother Earth” or “Mother Nature”, “Gaea” is basically the equivalent.

It could very well be that the Great Goddess of Old Europe had the name Gaea; we just don’t know. However, we feel that a return to a respectful, sustainable relationship with the Earth today is of vital importance to the world we will be leaving our grandchildren. Therefore, Gaea is an appropriate goddess image/ icon/ name concept for a new tribal society, inspired by the ancient Great Goddess cultures of Old Europe.

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In the Tribe of Gaea, we are not trying to be an indigenous people, claim indigenous heritage rights, or otherwise claim any kind of official status or recognition in that manner.

Indigenish is a term we use to indicate that we take our inspiration from certain characteristics commonly found among indigenous peoples, and from what we know of Old European indigenous culture in particular. While no two peoples are exactly alike, and it’s hard to make universal generalizations about what indigenous peoples are like, we try to remain true to the spirit of the Old European cultural mindset, which is centered around an honoring of the Divine Feminine as it is manifest in Nature, and we use some of their symbols, such as the water-bird, owl, and snake as totemic symbols. We share egalitarian values that are evident from the Old European settlements, which displayed little social stratification. We honor our bodies through eating a diet that is reminiscent of theirs, and we are unafraid to show our bodies, using clothing primarily for protective and symbolic purposes, not to hide in shame.

There are other things that we draw on from anthropological studies of those cultures, but due to fragmentary knowledge of our own ancestors’ ways from Old Europe, we also borrow some practices from other indigenous peoples, but nothing that could be laid claim to by any one culture. For example: If we use aromatic smoke incense that another culture uses, it’s only because it is locally available to us, sustainably harvested, and it gets the job done– we make no claim that we are doing things “The Native American Way” (as an example). If we wear an animal headdress in a ritual setting, it’s because such headdresses are common to many indigenous cultures. Eagle was not a major sacred animal to the Old Europeans, so we don’t use eagle feathers for our ritual garb (and it would be illegal to do so in the US, since we are not Native Americans). However, Owl was sacred to them, as was Heron, so we see no problem with humanely harvesting feathers from these birds (such as obtaining molted feathers from a bird sanctuary) for our regalia.

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Some people ask us why we have decided to revive the Great Goddess religion of Old Europe, instead of studying and adopting one of the better known religions that Europeans practiced prior to the rise of Christianity.

[Note: This is also related to the question of why we don’t just embrace one of the Goddess religions of the Near East or India? That question is answered in another FAQ.]

 

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What is a cult?

Derived from the Latin cultus, meaning “adoration,” cult has for hundreds of years been a synonym for religion. Until recently, the word did not have an unfavorable meaning. In earlier times, if one wished to slight a religion, it was called a “sect” or a “heresy.” But the latest edition of Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary gives us the third meaning of cult as “religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious.”

Had the world cult always been used this way, there would be few religions that would not have been called cults at one time or another.

For example, the Romans considered Christianity so cultish and strange that they exterminated its adherents as enemies of orderly government for more than two centuries.

John Calvin and his followers, who began the religious movement that became the Presbyterian church, were persecuted as an obnoxious unorthodoxy by the prevailing religions of the time. They had hardly become accepted religion in Zurich, Switzerland, however, before they were denouncing other new faiths as unorthodox and spurious. They declared that since Baptists wanted to be baptized, they would do it for them—and they drowned them. They burned Unitarian Michael Servetus, one of the most extraordinary men of the time, as a cultist and heretic.

The Puritans fled England in search of religious tolerance. Once they had established their Congregationalism in Massachusetts, they considered any but their own churches as spurious. They drove Roger Williams, who was a Baptist, out of the colony, and the first Quakers who tried to settle in America were deported.

The first followers of John Wesley wanted to stay in the Episcopal church of England, but the latter would have nothing to do with such unorthodox members and drove them out to start their own cult, the Methodist church. A hundred years ago, the Mormons were an abhorred cult.

The question that should be asked of every religion is not, “Are you a cult?” but, “What are you a cult of?”

The questions you should ask of us are, “What are your beliefs?” “What are your practices?”

The premier organization for the study of cults, the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) maintains a list of organizations that have been accused of being a cult, but refuses to make an evaluation on whether or not any particular organization should be labeled as such. This is because there are generally three approaches to labeling a new religious movement (NRM) as a cult the first two are: 1) a psycho-pathological approach, where an evaluation is made based on the diagnosis of members of suffering psychological trauma as a result of their membership in the NRM; and 2) a theological approach, where the label of “cult” basically means “we think you teach something heretical, which poses a perceived spiritual danger to people”. “Spiritual danger,” however, is based on religious dogma, and can not be objectively evaluated. Psycho-pathology often does not come to light until someone has left a NRM, and even then, it is difficult to ascertain whether the person was already suffering from psychopathology when they joined the NRM, or if the NRM actually caused the psychopathology. Psychologists, in general, have been hesitant to label NRMs as “dangerous cults” on this basis.

The third way in which NRMs are evaluated is by examining their behavioral traits, in how they operate. Certain key characteristics of harmful cults from the past (like Jim Jones’ People’s Temple, or Applewhite’s Heaven’s Gate) have revealed certain common patterns of behavior. For example, the intentional creation of mental, emotional, and psychological fatigue to break down the independent will of members, and subsequent re-indoctrination with the NRMs teachings. This is very much in common with psychological torture techniques used in “advanced interrogation” of terror suspects.

Great care is taken in the Tribe of Gaea to ensure that those who join are doing so of their own free will and informed choice. While we do expect changes in behavior and lifestyle aligned with the goals and values of the Tribe, we do so in a gentle, non-pressuring manner. We invite people to commit, but do not coerce or manipulate that commitment.

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Short answer: No.

Longer answer: Hell no!

Less snarky answer: If you’re asking, it’s probably because you’ve heard from a religion that believes that witchcraft (and likely many other things) has something to do with the Christian “devil”. We worship the Spirit of Life in the Earth, and call her “Gaea”. If you want to shout at us, telling us to “worship the Creator, not the Creation!”… well, we do worship the Creatrix (feminine form of “Creator”). She is the matrix (another feminine noun) of Life. We also honor her masculine Consort, who is the spark of life. The spark and the matrix together create all life on Planet Earth. She is the Earth, he is the Sun. Together, they make beautiful magic together, don’t they?

Seriously, we don’t believe in a devil. We don’t even really believe in “evil” as a cosmic force. We see “evil” as a mental/spiritual illness, where people become disconnected from their own natural sense of compassion and connectedness to the world around them, including other people. A good well-known example is Mr. Scrooge from Dickens “A Christmas Carol”. He became a bitter, mean old man because of his life experiences. The ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future helped him to reframe his life experiences and become reconnected to his compassionate heart. He was healed of the evil with which he was afflicted. Was Mr. Scrooge associated with the devil? No, he was just an old man with a lot of old pain from past wounds. He needed healing, not condemnation.

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Ecological Principles & Practices (1)

From the WikiPedia Article: Permaculture

Permaculture is a branch of ecological design and ecological engineering which develops sustainable human settlements and self-maintained agricultural systems modeled from natural ecosystems.

What does this mean? In the Tribe of Gaea, we implement the arts and sciences of Permaculture to provide clean, healthy food abundantly and sustainably for all Tribe members.

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