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The Women in Literature and Life Assembly
of
The National Council of Teachers of English
Editor:  Patricia Kelly kellyp@vt.edu
Volume 5
Fall 1996


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The Gaia Genesis

Marilyn Day

Beyond the Great Mother, all was barren. No stars shone, no waters flowed, no winds blew, no fields blossomed.

Around the Great Mother colors swirled: fiery red, waves of blue, soft green, shimmering orange and yellow, majestic purple, glittering white. She sat in the center singing her beautiful song, but there was no one to hear.

She said, "I will create a world to share my song and the floating colors."

She took blue and cast it into the air. She cupped green into a huge ball and settled it at her feet. Yellow she fashioned into a great star and hung it in the blue sky. Orange and purple and white she sprinkled across the green earth, and up sprang flowers. Red she set down in a ring of stones to warm and light the earth.

Still, there was no one to hear her song. She took up bits of rock from the earth and breathed over them. Their shapes turned into animals, large and small. But they rushed away to make their nests and dens and did not hear her song.

The Great Mother reached into her own heart and broke from it a hundred pieces. As she breathed on each, it became a lovely young woman. And they sat at her feet listening to her song. Laughing and smiling, they ate the good fruits of the earth she had created.

One creature, however, was not content-a small, jealous monkey. It envied the Great Mother's song, her beautiful colors, the laughter of her daughters, and most of all, her life-giving breath. One dark night the monkey broke off a bit of its own heart and held it near the Great Mother's breath as she slept. Immediately, a giant creature grew. His voice was loud, his face hairy, his eyes fierce. He tore a limb from a tree and began to kill the small animals. Laughing, he tossed their bodies into the ring of fire and sat down to eat.

In terror the monkey huddled close to the Great Mother. Its trembling woke her. When she saw the new creature, she wept.

"Thoughtless monkey, what you have done cannot be undone. You have loosed a violent creature, and all the world must suffer for it. He can be tamed but only with great and constant effort."

She turned to her daughters.

"My dear ones, by your wit and beauty you must subdue him. By his side you must always be. Unattended by calming love, he will destroy the world."

Her daughters shuddered at their sudden fate.

"My dear ones, as your task is great, so must your gift be great. To each of you I give the power of life."

She dipped her fingertips into her heart's blood, and as she touched her daughters, within each grew the womb that brings forth life.

Thus did the daughters of the Great Mother come into the troubled world.


Marilyn Day teaches English at Marblehead High School in Massachusetts as well as at Northeastern University in Boston. Active in student journalism, she is a founding director and treasurer of Yankee PEN, an association of New England journalism advisors.

© 1996 The Women in Literature and Life Assembly of the National Council of Teachers of English (ISSN #1065-9080). Permission is given to copy any article provided credit is given and the copies are not intended for resale.

Reference Citation: Day, Marilyn. (1996). "The Gaia Genesis." WILLA, Volume V, p. 11.


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