Seasonal Salon

How the Gaia Statue Came Home to the Motherhouse

For each Cycle of my work for WTI, I was asked to learn about and meditate on 10 goddesses. I decided that one simple way to handle the assignment was to learn about the 9 muses. So I only needed one more goddess, and I thought, how about their Grandmother, Gaia? It turns out that she was a perfect fit for my work and my interests, since I was following the Earthwalker Path, exploring my love of gardening and the land and animals. Based on my WTI goddess work, I partnered with a talented local sculptor, Karen Sontag-Sattel, to create a life-size statue of Gaia. The story of creating Her is found in the last issue of the Seasonal Salon.

They say that once you get close to Her, Goddess will take you on a journey. Her myths and stories are all about overcoming challenges and moving into new territory. In this case, in becoming my statue, Gaia took me along, and her journey became mine.

The first challenge I faced with her was simply getting this large stone statue set up in the right place on my lawn. I wanted her to be near a very large oak tree, which I knew to be a place of spirit. This would mean a beautiful partnership with the tree, but would also present problems because there were other trees around and a truck couldn't get to that location. The Gaia statue would have to be lifted over the trees!

moving gaiaKaren, the sculptor, had worked with a local man to place other statues in local parks. She and I were concerned about how the installation was going to work out. The driver was able to bring a crane that could set down "feet" to stabilize lifting such a heavy load. While Karen and I looked on and prayed for a good outcome, he was able to lift Gaia between the trees and set her right onto her cement footing.

For the years she was seated next to the oak tree, Gaia offered women the kind of goddess connection I was hoping for. My WTI group and circle worked her into rituals and classes. I especially remember the May Pole we made one year. After the ritual we moved to rest on the oak tree, where the colorful ribbons gradually lost their color and fit into the earth tones of goddess and land. I thought she was going to be the goddess of that place forever.

But, "She changes everything she touches." Some years later, I found it necessary to move away from a relationship that no longer served either of us, which also moved me away from my beautiful home and the gardens and woods I loved. It was especially hard to leave Gaia, who along with my labyrinth was my focal point for personal spiritual work on the land. I was challenged to start over while Gaia still remained on my property.

Eventually I decided to sell my land, but I didn't want to leave Gaia behind. Though it wouldn't be easy, I thought it would be good for her to go to the RCG-I Motherhouse in Madison, where women of Congregation would be able to appreciate her. Jade agreed, but I still had other challenges ahead.

When the time came to move Gaia, I encountered other obstacles, both physical and emotional. The move had to be made in two stages, first moving the statue from the woods to an open space where She could be boxed for travel, and then, the following week, loading Her onto a truck in the driveway. The first stage was uneventful; my ex wasn't around the property that week.

But the second stage was monumental. Even though she knew this move was going to happen and she didn't contest my ownership of the statue, my ex-partner repeatedly put up barriers. First she parked her car at the end of the driveway, effectively blocking access. After the local sheriff informed her that she couldn't block access to property she didn't own, she moved her vehicle back to the homestead. But when the driver of the front end loader got to the statue, he discovered that my ex's car was again blocking access. The sheriff couldn't help me here because now it was a civil matter on private property. I had to navigate these waters myself. I was afraid and I didn't want to do it. But I had the transport ready and had hired heavy equipment operators both in Minnesota and Wisconsin to facilitate this move. I had to face my fears and try to negotiate some passage. I walked down my familiar long driveway, searching for the right words. With no fists nor voices raised, I implored this woman I once loved to be reasonable. And to my surprise, this time she heard me.

That day was a reminder that letting go takes as long as it takes. I had to remain determined in my plan to take Gaia to Her new home, a place where She (and I) felt nurtured and valued.

I drove the U-Haul to the Mother House myself, long hours on the Interstate, and then watched as workers placed Her in the yard. It felt right to see Gaia there and to know that She would continue to welcome our women for years to come.

For information about feminist foremother Meridel Le Sueur, who posed for the Gaia statue, see the article by Sid Reger elsewhere in this issue.


Category: Spring Equinox 2019