- Who We Are
- Helpful Vocabulary
- Video Resources
- Suggested Reading
- About the Website
The Gaian Way was founded by Erik Assadourian in 2019 (after many years of thinking and writing about the need for a deeper environmental way). It is now an active living community with several events online each month and three local guilds that meet regularly for nature meditations.
Erik Assadourian is a sustainability researcher and writer who was affiliated with the Worldwatch Institute from 2001 until 2017, when the institute went into hibernation. He co-authored over a dozen books and directed and co-directed seven. He focused especially on the need for cultural change to move humanity beyond consumerism. This brought him to grapple with overconsumption and its effects on humans and Earth, with economic degrowth, and many other topics. And in time Erik realized that only through a culture fully oriented on sustainability will humans be able to survive the changes wrought over the past two centuries of our cancerous development. This led him to write on what an Earth-centric education would look like; to create an eco-expansion for Settlers of Catan (Catan: Oil Springs) that helps players question fossil fuel use and continued growth; and even develop a reality TV show (Yardfarmers) that normalizes multigenerational households, economic degrowth, and low-consumption life paths for Millennials in the overdeveloped United States.
But most importantly this path led Erik to weave Deep Ecology, Gaia Theory, and other modern sustainability scientific findings and ancient philosophical wisdom into a new philosophical path, the Gaian Way. With the community that has formed around Gaianism, Erik and other seekers are crafting a new way, one that recognizes our connection with and utter dependence on the living Earth, and one hopefully that can help us navigate the society-disrupting environmental challenges that used to be on the horizon, but are now here. Erik also convenes the Middletown Gaian Guild in Middletown, Connecticut, and is a member of the Gaian Leadership Council.
Bart Everson is a Gaian, the convener of the Crescent City Gaian Guild, and a member of the Gaian Leadership Council. He helped found the Green Party of Louisiana as well as Friends of Lafitte Greenway, the Earth-Based Spirituality Action Team of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, the Earth-Centered Special Interest Group of POD Network, and the Greater New Orleans Interfaith Climate Coalition. He is the author of Spinning in Place: A Secular Humanist Embraces the Neo-Pagan Wheel of the Year. More at BartEverson.com.
Robinne Gray is living in her fourth major watershed. She spent her childhood in the desert southwest (Salt River watershed), then lived in the Finger Lakes region of central New York (St. Lawrence Seaway watershed) and the Washington DC metro region (Chesapeake watershed) before relocating to the central Alleghenies (Ohio River watershed). For fun, Robinne studies natural history and botany and enjoys hiking and paddling explorations. Robinne is a member of the Gaian Leadership Council.
John Mulrow is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Environmental and Ecological Engineering at Purdue University. His research focuses on how environmental impact forecasting tools such as Life Cycle Assessment and Greenhouse gas footprinting can better account for the feedback effects of efficiency improvement. He leads a degrowth colloquium at Purdue, serves as Co-President of DegrowUS, and is on the Leadership Council of the Gaian Way.
Krista Hiser is the convener of the Gaian Guild of Hawaiʻi. She is a professor at Kapi’olani Community College in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi where she teaches writing, rhetoric, and a course on climate literature. Her favorite Gaian practices are working less, meditating at her sit spot at Waiakeakua, and reading.
Jeremiah Jones is the Gaian Way’s Partnership Coordinator. He is also studying architecture at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri. When he’s away from his studio desk, he works on guerrilla gardening, rewilding his backyard, and growing his family farm into a Gaian ecovillage.
Jon Schroth is an Arts Fellow with the Gaian Way. He is currently developing an Ecological Calendar for New England to connect with annual cycles from an ecocentric perspective. Jon Schroth received his degree from Ringling School of Art and Design in 2004, before beginning a career in animation with Blue Sky Studios. He worked on twelve feature films released by 20th Century Fox and Disney including the Rio and Ice Age movies. Now, based in Middletown, CT, Jon works in a variety of visual creative mediums.
Non-human Gaian Council Members
In 2023, we added four more-than-human members to our council, with each human council member serving to co-represent them. Below are their brief bios. For more detailed biographies, visit here.
Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus) lives across much of North America. Little Brown Bat joined the Gaian Way Council to give voice to those who are crepuscular, relying on nighttime darkness; those directly dependent on robust insect populations (particularly aquatic species, thus also on clean water) to feed; those who require undisturbed habitat to hibernate (torpor), migrate, and breed; species in danger of extinction; and those with the special talent of echolocation! (Channeled by Robinne Gray)
Sandhill Crane is a child of Gaia who has been practicing ecological rhythms on Turtle Island for nearly 2.5 million years. Antigone canadensis, as they are sometimes called, lives year-round in parts of Florida and the Caribbean, and otherwise travels up and down the continent to feed, breed, rest, and live among the elements. They are our partner in sensing, recognizing, and revering our one shared planet. The importance of Gaia’s health is unmistakable when we imagine the consistency of climate and pattern that guide Sandhill Crane on its way. (Channeled by John Mulrow)
Horseshoe Crab (Limulus polyphemus) is our oldest board member, having been part of Gaia for about 440 million years, longer than the dinosaurs. As a chelicerate, Horseshoe Crab is actually more closely related to spiders and scorpions than crabs, and lives in coastal areas, on sandy bottoms along the East Coast of the U.S. (three other species are found in Asia). We are grateful that she will lend us her wisdom and ancient perspective, especially after the horrible experience she has had lately with humans. (Channeled by Erik Assadourian)
Southern Live Oak, also known as Quercus virginiana, grow along the Gulf Coast and up the eastern seaboard all the way to Virginia. We’ve invited one particular individual Live Oak to the board of the Gaian Way. This tree is rooted in the Mississippi Alluvial Plain in what is now New Orleans City Park. The Crescent City Gaian Guild meets there every week, but that is a very recent development from the perspective of the trees. This particular tree sprouted from an acorn around 800 years ago. At that time, the Choctaw people called the area Bvlbancha, meaning the Land of Many Tongues, as over twenty distinct languages were spoken there. (Channeled by Bart Everson)
Gaia: the name given by the ancient Greeks for the Great Mother, a primordial entity who is the source and sustainer of all life. Modern scientists borrowed the name of Gaia as a poetic metaphor for the reality of the Living Earth: nothing less than the coevolutionary, interconnected, planetary ecosystem.
Gaian Way: The philosophical path that recognizes Gaia as a living holobiont, made up of countless organisms, a being that we are part of, and that gives us our purpose, and that we are utterly dependent on for our survival.
Gaianism: The set of religious beliefs and practices (such as meditations and fasting) that have stemmed from this philosophical path.
Gaian: 1) A practitioner of Gaianism; 2) All beings who live and depend on Gaia.
Gaian Community: The community that has formed as Gaians have come together to share their beliefs and seek camaraderie and mutual support.
Below are several videos that help you better understand the Gaian Way:
- “Following the Gaian Way,” an overview essay in the Harvard Divinity Bulletin. Or listen to Michael Dowd read it (recommended!).
- A presentation that Erik Assadourian gave at the Ecological Spiritualities Conference at the Harvard Divinity School
- A concise overview of Gaian Practices by Bart Everson.
- An interview with Erik Assadourian and Rachel Donald of Planet: Critical.
- A presentation that Erik Assadourian gave at the Systems of Sustainable Consumption-Knowledge-Action Network conference, which explores how the Gaian Way supports a low consumption lifestyle and redirecting one’s life energy away from overconsuming to healing Gaia and our relationship with Gi.
- An interview between Erik Assadourian and Michael Dowd in his Post-doom interview series.
- A Gaian Approach to Disaster with Krista Hiser, in a discussion with the Earth-based Spirituality Action Team meeting of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby
- An exploration of the broader overshoot humanity faces and how a renewable transition alone is not enough. Economic and population degrowth needs to be first and foremost. Speakers include Ecological Economist Bill Rees, and ecological engineers John Mulrow and Miriam Stevens.
Want more videos? Subscribe to the Gaian Way YouTube channel.
Below is a short list of books that can introduce you to a deeper understanding of Gaia, or the living Earth, and to a living a life more connected to Gaia. Below that are the list of past books we read for our monthly book club. Happy Reading!
- Clarke, Bruce. Gaian Systems: Lynn Margulis, Neocybernetics, and the End of the Anthropocene, 2020.
- Latour, Bruno, and Catherine Porter. Facing Gaia: eight lectures on the new climatic regime, 2017.
- Livingstone, Glenys. PaGaian Cosmology : Re-Inventing Earth-Based Goddess Religion. New York: iUniverse, 2005.
- Lovelock, James. Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth, 2016.
- Naess, Arne. The Ecology of Wisdom, 2008.
- Primavesi, Anne. Sacred Gaia: Holistic Theology and Earth System Science. London; New York: Routledge, 2000.
- Ruse, Michael. The Gaia Hypothesis: Science on a Pagan Planet, 2013.
- Taylor, Bron Raymond. Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010.
- Tyrrell, Toby. On Gaia: A Critical Investigation of the Relationship between Life and Earth, 2013.
- Rachel Carson, Silent Spring [September 2020]
- John Halstead. Another End of the World is Possible. [October 2020]
- Pablo Servigne and Raphael Stevens. How Everything Can Collapse [October 2020]
- Robin Wall Kimmerer. Braiding Sweetgrass [November 2020]
- Richard Powers. The Overstory [December 2020]
- Robert MacFarlane. Underland [January 2021]
- Kim Stanley Robinson. Ministry for the Future [February 2021]
- Qing Li. Forest Bathing [March 2021]
- M. Amos Clifford. Your Guide to Forest Bathing: Experience the Healing Power of Nature [March 2021]
- Thomas Berry. The Great Work: Our Way into the Future [April 2021]
- Eileen Crist and H. Bruce Rinker (Eds). Gaia in Peril [May 2021]
- Michael Dowd. Video: The Big Picture: Clarity, Compassion, and Love-in-Action [June 2021]
- Patrick Curry. Enchantment [July 2021]
- Charles Mann. The Wizard and the Prophet [August 2021]
- Megan Seibert and William Rees. “Through the Eye of a Needle: An Eco-Heterodox Perspective on the Renewable Energy Transition,” Energies Journal [September 2021]
- Craig Holdrege. Seeing the Animal Whole and Why It Matters [October 2021]
- Neil Postman. Amusing Ourselves to Death [November 2021]
- Ann Palmer. Reinventing Christmas Carols and Ecosanta [December 2021]
- Paul Kingsnorth. Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist [January 2022]
- Chris Smaje. Small Farm Future [February 2022]
- David Holmgren. RetroSuburbia [March 2022]
- Suzanne Simard. Finding the Mother Tree [April 2022]
- Dan Fiscus. “The Roles of Science in the Global Ecological Crisis” [May 2022]
- Bart Everson. Spinning in Place [June 2022]
- Henry David Thoreau. Walden [July 2022]
- James Burke. Connections, Season 1, Episode 10 [August 2022]
- Thomas Homer-Dixon, Commanding Hope [October 2022]
- Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme, Journey of the Universe [February 2023]
- Symphony of the Soil [March 2023]
- Stephan Harding, Gaia Alchemy 
- Andreas Malm, How to Blow Up a Pipeline [June 2023]
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