From all the times it’s been told it’s evolved until almost nothing of the truth could be feathered out. For those of us who listen in the deep recesses of our own quiet her voice whispers softly, and forever after she can be seen in the beauty of a sunset, the gathering of storm clouds, the moon as it passes, and the seasons as they change. She can be felt in the soft breeze at the nape of your neck, the crisp air caressing your cheeks, and the harsh winds swirling around you. Listen, see, feel, hear, and remember; she is everywhere.
And so the story is told, and retold, of seven dwarves and a girl.
Gaia was born from blood. Although she was not an animal, or a human they walked among her as her own. Gaia, like many in their youth, was curious. That combination of youth and curiosity is what fueled everything that came to pass. Inexperienced and unaware of her own power, Gaia pushed.
An almost imperceptible groan of the earth reverberated, and slowly from the depths of the ground a figure of a woman emerged. Wooden features, as if carved from the very earth, marked an aged and wizened face. A moss and stringy hair escaped disheveled from her head, and snow white flowers bloomed amongst it. Her figure was slender, and seemed to be made of a twist and twine of branches and vines. She was clearly female with small round breasts, and a small pot belly that looked as if she has gone through the process of child birth. The lower half of her body was buried in the earth, merged with it in a way that was impossible to tell where one started and one ended; they were one. Long slender branch arms flowed in a manner that suggested a breeze that could not be felt. She swayed one arm and twig like fingers formed into a hand that reached for nearby birds to perch on. From her fingertips hung leaves like ornate fingernails, and her whole frame seemed alive with a life of its own, part of her yet individual, as if growing, moving and living for anyone to bare witness too.
Here she stayed for hundreds of years gathering knowledge from her animals. She was happy, and that happiness extended from her creating around her a thick forest filled with rich hues of greens and browns. It became a forest filled with the soft sounds of birds in the trees and small animals foraging on the forest floor. She knew somewhere close by the grass changed into a rough stone ledge that dropped away abruptly, also in the recesses of her memory she knew the fast flowing river far below mirrored the bright blue sky dotted with slow drifting clouds.
Still in the naivety of her youth, she stretched and reached, pushing again. Long legs of twisted branches and vines slid from her grass home. Without further thought she strolled from the forest to walk for a time among her humans. There was a scent in the air that was not there before. It was deep, rich and earthy, a mixture of damp earth and wet wood. The air smelled and tasted ancient and soothing. Her ancient roots didn’t need to hear a voice to know the question, and when she spoke it was a gentle breeze that lifted the hair back from the ear to allow a quiet whisper to resonate the answer.
Time passed. Gaia walked among her humans, and they called her Snow White the wooden girl. They loved her for a while. However, their love was consuming, and Gaia gave without receiving. Slowly she began to tire. It was because of her tiredness that she fragmented the first time. Those around her remained blind to it, but she knew a small part of herself had fractured. She watched as the first fragmentation ran toward a dense section of forest that was untainted by human hands. No surprise registered as this splintered section of herself grew upright into a sleek swift doe. When the doe breeched the forest it disappeared. Gaia remained watchful, and was rewarded when a she-bear emerged from the same section of forest the doe had entered. As she watched it became clear that the first part of herself that fragmented was wild.
This year became known as the year of hunting, and hunters.
Gaia’s exhaustion continued to grow. For the next 6 years she continued to break into pieces. Each piece splintered from her into the same initial form. It was a dwarfish form akin to those mythical creatures from fairy tales, small and manlike with drawn limbs and slightly ugly features. All of these fragmentations transformed before her eyes.
It was a new moon the second time Gaia splintered. The year that followed this severing was marked by a balance of life and death, a pattern that followed for every year after. All the flowers and plants shifted and died, a hibernation and coldness settled over the lands for 6 long months before warmth started to return, and rains began to bring forth new life.
Gaia’s third fragmentation transformed into a low slithering serpent. It was a year of many marriages, and many childbirths. Although there was strange acts of jealousy sprinkled throughout the year, for the greatest portion of the year there was an abundance of natural affection.
The fourth year of fragmentation was marked by fulfillment and celebration of wife and mother, as well as bountiful harvest. The year that followed was full of love and sex. Femininity, intuition, and wisdom were strong. Gaia’s gifts to the world remain true to the balance she loved, and the sixth year of fragmentation brought security and responsibility. However, Gaia was spent. She knew she had stayed too long. The world around her had changed, and she was no longer welcome in the towns and cities. She was feared instead of revered. A constant stream of expressed disapproval followed her, sadly her specific characteristics suddenly became to peculiar.
With an ache of tiredness deep in her limbs she travelled alone at night pacing a slow steady pace beside the edge of an old dirt road. She came to a junction in the road where she paused feeling a weighted heaviness within herself. Tired she crouched, and waited for her final fragmentation to pass. The night was deep and black with only 2 stars shining in the sky. With barely enough light to see she left her severance to transform alone besides the crossroads as she dragged her tired limbs into the waiting forest.
It was dawn when she reached a place of comfort. So much growth and change had left her with a feeling of metamorphosis as if an unknown process had been completed. Without further thought, slowly she swayed her hand to point downward drawing attention to her connection with the ground. Roots appeared shooting down from her lower body into the ground, and soft vines trailed and weaved slowly up and over her legs. She became aware of deep ancient memories rooted inside her, a strong and true knowledge. She turned her eyes toward the world as she became one with it again, a long settling sigh blew around her on the breeze and there was a subtle feeling of the ground settling. Filled with a deep calm she cast her gaze outward over the horizon to drift for a while in her memories…
By Shari Marshall – 2017