Gaia – Earth Mother and Turtle? Ancient Wisdom For Conscious Living

Gaia is etymologically a compound word composed of two elements: Ge, meaning “Earth,” which is also a pre-Greek substrate word related to Ki in Sumerian, also meaning Earth and Aia comes from an Indo-European derivative meaning “Grandmother.” Therefore, the full etymology of Gaia was once “Grandmother Earth.” Most of us know Gaia simply as Earth or Mother Earth; the primordial element from which all things originated, which is what the Romans believed as well. They knew Gaia, the Great Mother, as a single living entity that encompassed the totality of every element in the Universe; land, sea, or sky. The Greeks knew her as an ancient primeval goddess who personified the Earth and whose emergence appeared at the creation of the Universe, born from Chaos. Gaia’s power was far reaching in Ancient Greece, making oaths sworn in her name to be the most binding of all. If only such value for her was still a part of our lives, perhaps we’d discover more honor in promise to the planet we live on and more synergy and harmony through conscious, symbiotic care of the collective she signifies.

Throughout the ages and cultures, active worship of this titan of fertile Earth came under the guise of many names and varied forms ranging from reverent bowing to druidic ritual, all in an effort to get more in tune with the rhythm and continuity of nature she embodies. She represented to all, the Earth, or spiritual embodiment of the Earth, and sometimes was the goddess of all creation from which all other gods sprang. Only Egyptian mythology holds a reverse personification, whereas Geb is the Earth Father while Nut is the Sky Mother, as opposed to Zeus as Sky Father and Gaia as Earth Mother. In Indian religions, the Mother of all creation is called “Gayatri,” which is a very close form of Gaia. She is the mother of all Vedas, consort of the God Brahma, and personification of the all-pervading Parabrahman – the ultimate unchanging reality that lies behind all phenomena. Many Hindus view connection through the pure love and essence of the Gayatri Mantra as Divine awakening of the mind and soul and a way to reach the most Supreme form of existence. Simply, the mantra helps us reach toward our divine mother and receive her blessings and wisdom to support us through the challenges of life. Gaia’s qualities of divine femininity express her desire to nurture mankind and mirror for us, the reverence we have forgotten to honor.

Far too coincidental and divinely synchronous, turtles are the most ancient, vertebrate creatures that also possess Gaia’s wisdom and mother energy and through such, have much to impart. Many ancient myths, such as those of the Indigenous North Americans, describe the world as resting on the turtle’s back and many still refer to North America as Turtle Island. This is illustrated by their creation legends that tell of a time when Earth was covered by water and Turtle dove to the ocean’s depths to bring forth Earth on its back so the people could have a safe, dry home. Like Gaia, these ageless beings have carried a myriad of symbolic meanings throughout the ages and cultures, mysteriously linking them as symbols of the primal mother (except in African lore where it is a male symbol) and lunar cycles; again possessing Earth and Cosmic Universal significance and connection with the center. Far East Asian myth believed turtles brought about the creation of the Universe from its parts, which are said to depict a map of the stars and sacred writings: the shell symbolic of the heavens and used in divination readings, the body symbolic of the Earth, and its undershell symbolic of the underworld. This cosmic order they represent, coupled with the magical ability to support us in uniting heaven and earth within our lives, supports our experience of life as “heaven on earth.” They are the only animal to have the honor of symbolizing both Mother Earth and healing waters, as well as personifying winter, humidity, thunder to the Mayans, Venus, Aphrodite, Northern directions, and the moon (most turtle shells are divided into 13 sections depicting the 13 yearly phases of the moon.) Powerfully nurturing and protecting, turtle medicine is beautifully illustrated through shared attributes with its Earth Mother counterpart, Gaia, while their spirit symbolizes profound lessons in light of its own example.

There is a presence and flow of steadfast strength in their deliberate, steady, and thorough approach to a life of non-doing, non-reaction, acceptance, and naturalism. Always at home within themselves, they embody the meaning of “home is where the heart is,” understanding detachment and freedom. These carefree, patient, instinctual creatures honor the rhythms of life balance, demonstrate non-violent, self-defense mechanisms, and know when to turn within. Navigating one day at a time, they mirror the importance of moving at one’s own pace through life while honoring boundaries. Turtles are survivors; living so near the Earth, moving slowly, aging gracefully, symbolizing groundedness, and embracing courage with faith, as is demonstrated through the progress they make only by sticking their neck out. It is no wonder they are considered the wisest of souls in the animal kingdom, offering a potent and profound analogy for humankind on many deep levels.

So intertwined are the turtle and Gaia; there is no mistaking the significance and association of their deep and profound symbology that seemingly comes from two separate sources, but are synonymously bridged as one. Such contrast between an omnipotent presence and an unassuming innocence and yet the blood lines run through the core of the same essence. Do not be fooled by the book’s cover, as both embody the spirit and soul of Earth and beyond and share with us invaluable knowledge and teachings. Across the board, whether known as Gaia, personified as Turtle, called, sung, or chanted by another synchronous name, she is the connection to the Universal mothering and nurturing source that leads us to a deep sense of profound peace and balance within and manifested without. Yet, more than any other goddess, she is consistently identified as the divine and animate Earth Mother; the living, conscious planet we reside on that provides sustenance and inherent wisdom to all of her children. Gaia personifies awareness of our connectedness through the circle of life and the sacredness of all life, be it plant, animal, human, or stars above. She roots her values and respectively ours, helping us to remember that connection and to remind us that respect and gratitude for everything and everyone around us is the ever-present message she hopes to impart. Through this conscious living we can attain that balance and wholeness that is the promise Gaia offers. Shifting our perspective to that of experiencing connection with her as a partner in life worth respect and honor, we can then enjoy the blessings of that union through the daily gifts of beauty and miracles she provides.

Dedicated and inspired by my new friend and Russian Tortoise, Gaia: a sweet, magical, Taurean-born being possessing earthy, feminine energy, as her name suggests. Gaia’s name was spoken to me from the Universe as I listened to ancient mantras on the way home from receiving her into my life. She was restless in her box, but instantly calmed to a stillness with the sound of the first mantra playing. Ironically, as I listened to it and sang the words, the only thing that pervaded my thoughts and essence was the Gayatri Mantra, even though the mantra I was singing was not this one. I only had Gayatri on my mind for some odd reason and didn’t realize I hadn’t been listening to it, until hours later after reaching home. So while I sang the mantra playing, I heard the word “Gayatri” in my head and instantly thereafter, Gaya…Gaia. I turned to my little friend and knew. The Universe and she had both spoken her name to me through the ancient mantra playing. And now I know why.

Ayurvedic Cure For Chikungunya

Chikungunya has become the biggest scare in the world currently. After the epidemics of dengue and SARS, now chikungunya has grabbed the attention of people of the world. In some parts of the world, chikungunya is also called as Chicken Guinea, though this is a misnomer as chikungunya has nothing to do with chicken. Chicken Guinea is just an Anglicization of the word chikungunya.

The word chikungunya is etymologically rooted in the Makonde language of Tanzania, where it means ‘that which bends up’. This name is because of the painful symptoms which cause the patient’s joints to curve in an upwards position. The origins of chikungunya can be traced to 1952 in central Africa from where it has become rampant in Asia currently. The disease manifests itself as an epidemic, and if uncontrolled, it might turn into a pandemic.

The latest epidemic of chikungunya is currently going on in South India. The heavy floods in South India in the monsoon region have been responsible for the widespread outbreak of the disease. Southern states of India such as Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu have been the most drastically hit. A lot of research is going on in India with respect to chikungunya, in both the allopathic and the Ayurvedic fields. Most people have found Ayurveda to be a solution for chikungunya.

Definition of Chikungunya

Chikungunya is a viral disease that is very similar in symptoms and etiology to the more popular disease, dengue fever. The virus responsible for chikungunya is alpha-virus, which belongs to the togoviridae family. This virus is transmitted through mosquito bites. Only a specific type of mosquito is a vector, i.e. carrier for chikungunya. This is the aedes aegypti mosquito, which is active only in the daytime. The aedes aegypti mosquito is the same mosquito that is responsible for the transmission of dengue fever among humans. The condition of chikungunya is generally not fatal, and it can be remedied within five to seven days with proper treatment. The basic characteristic of the disease is a fever along with an arthritic-type of pain in the joints (which has given it its Sanskrit name).

Causes of Chikungunya

Chikungunya has become the biggest scare in the world currently. After the epidemics of dengue and SARS, now chikungunya has grabbed the attention of people of the world. In some parts of the world, chikungunya is also called as Chicken Guinea, though this is a misnomer as chikungunya has nothing to do with chicken. Chicken Guinea is just an Anglicization of the word chikungunya.

Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted through the agency of mosquitoes. The responsible chikungunya virus is the alphavirus, which is carried by the aedes aegypti breed of mosquito. Hence, after malaria, filaria and dengue, chikungunya has become one more reason to exterminate mosquitoes.

The prime method of spread of chikungunya is through stagnated water. The aedes aegypti mosquito lays its eggs only in stagnated water. This explains why there is a widespread outbreak of chikungunya in India currently, which has just recovered from heavy floods in July-August.

Symptoms of Chikungunya

Chikungunya symptoms begin almost immediately after the viral infection. Some of the symptoms are:-

o Fever with very high temperature

o Acute pain all over the body

o Sharp pain in the joints accompanied by swelling

o Severe headache

o Profuse rashes

o Conjunctivitis

o Loss of taste in the tongue

o Mouth ulcers

The following Ayurvedic preparations have been found to be effective against the symptoms of chikungunya:-

o Sudarshan choorna – Two tablespoons of this choorna must be taken per day.

o Yogiraj guggulu – Two tablets per day are to be taken.

Here it is important to mention that there is currently a debate going on about the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicines in the treatment of chikungunya, for which no other form of treatment has been found yet. Almost all Ayurveda exponents are of the opinion that chikungunya may not be treated by Ayurveda alone, but the herbs are effective in allaying some of the severe symptoms of the condition.

Ayurvedic Treatment for Chikungunya

The fever of chikungunya normally comes back to normal within two to three days, but the other symptoms persist for over a week or more. The fever is quite different from normal fever since it is accompanied by chills and feelings of nausea and vomiting.

There is no drug prescribed for chikungunya from the World Health Organization until now. Doctors are using aspirin, ibuprofen, combiflam, paracetamol, etc. to reduce the pains and the fever, but there is no universally acceptable treatment in allopathic medicine yet. Some people are benefited by some medication, while others are not. Some chikungunya people get healed on their own after a few days. Hence, medical science is not trusted enough where chikungunya is concerned.

This has led many people with chikungunya to turn to Ayurveda for seeking out treatment. Ayurveda also may not be able to treat the condition of chikungunya completely, but it provides the necessary resistance for the body to combat with the disease.

Since there is no medicine for Chikungunya in allopathy, people increasingly turning to traditional indian medicines (ayurveda). Ayurveda treatment of Chikungunya uses herbal drugs. Some of the kashayams (concoctions) prescribed are Amrutharista, Mahasudarshana Churna, panchathiktha kashayam, Sudarshan Churnam, Dhanvantaram Gutika and Amruthotharam Kashayam. Ancient ayurveda describes a similar condition called Sandhijwara which is similar to Chikungunya in its symptoms (joint pain). Hence some of the medicines can sooth joint pain. At the same time there are reports of fake medicines in which steroids are added. These can cause severe side effects in long term. Hence the best advice is to take rest and drink plenty of fluid food!

Prevention of Chikungunya Fever

Currently there is no vaccine for Chikungunya. There is only way to prevent Chikungunya fever – don’t get bit by a mosquito! This is easier said than done in a tropical area such as India. Some of the following precautions can help reduce the risk of mosquito bites,

o Use mosquito net when sleeping during daytime.

o Wear dress which covers most of the body. Also there are repellents available which can be applied on dress materials.

o Use mosquito coils or repellents(which contains Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or DEET). But you should be aware that prolonged use of these are not recommended. Also ensure adequate ventilation when these are used.

o Use curtains or window nets which prevent entry of mosquitos to the house.

o Use of cream or spray that can be applied on skin. This masks body odour and effectively you are invisible from mosquito. Very handy if you are visiting an area where Chikungunya is reported.

Summary

Chikungunya is an arboviral disease transmitted by aedes mosquitoes. The virus was first isolated in 1953 in Tanzania. Chikungunya virus is a member of the genus Alphavirus and the family Togaviridae. The disease typically consists of an acute illness characterised by fever, rash, and incapacitating arthralgia. The word chikungunya, used for both the virus and the disease, means “to walk bent over” in some east African languages, and refers to the effect of the joint pains that characterise this dengue-like infection. Chikungunya is a specifically tropical disease, but it is geographically restricted and outbreaks are relatively uncommon. It is only occasionally observed in travellers and military personnel. More than 266 000 people have been infected during the ongoing outbreak in RĂ©union, in which Aedes albopictus is the presumed vector. In the ongoing Indian outbreak, in which Aedes aegypti is the presumed vector, 1 400 000 cases of chikungunya were reported during 2006. The reasons for the re-emergence of chikungunya on the Indian subcontinent, and for its unprecedented incidence rate in the Indian Ocean region, are unclear. Plausible explanations include increased tourism, chikungunya virus introduction into a naive population, and viral mutation.