A Gift from the Gods
Medicine is and always has been the Divine Art. To primitive man, the ability to heal and cure disease seemed to be magical, even miraculous. The gospels of the New Testament are filled with the miraculous healings of Jesus. Every traditional culture has its gods, demigods, and heroes who are associated with the art of healing.
To the ancient Greeks, medicine was a gift from the gods. Greek mythology is full of symbolic legends and allegories explaining the nature and origins of the art of healing. In these myths and the gods and goddesses associated with them, we can find the basic, fundamental archetypes that have guided and shaped the art of healing in Western civilization from its very inception. These archetypes still guide the physician today, and all those who come to him for healing, whether they realize it or not.
Greek mythology is a wonderful source of wisdom and inspiration for the physician. By studying the Greek myths, we can gain valuable insights into the nature of health and disease, and the way of the healer.
Mother Earth, Mother Nature
The first Greek god was actually a goddess. She is Gaia, or Mother Earth, who created herself out of primordial chaos. From her fertile womb all life sprang, and unto Mother Earth all living things must return after their allotted span of life is over.
Gaia, as Mother Nature, personifies the entire ecosystem of Planet Earth. Mother Nature is always working to achieve and maintain harmony, wholeness and balance within the environment. Mother Nature heals, nurtures and supports all life on this planet, and ultimately all life and health depend on Her. In time, Nature heals all ills.
The way of Mother Gaia is the passive, feminine, Yin way of healing. All we need to do to regain our health is to return to the bosom of Mother Nature and live in accordance with Her laws. The Gaia archetype underlies all notions of the Nature Cure. Mother Nature is a healing goddess.
In the 1960s, James Lovelock formulated the Gaia hypothesis. It states that all life, and all living things on this planet, are part of a single, all-encompassing global entity or consciousness which he named Gaia. It is this global consciousness, Mother Gaia, that makes our planet capable of supporting life, while our near neighbors in the solar system are barren and lifeless.
Through the global consciousness of Mother Gaia, all living things on this planet, from their most primordial instincts, are constantly interacting with their environment to ensure the harmony, balance and continuity of Life. Live in abalance with Mother Nature and health and healing are yours; violate Her laws and get out of balance, and you pay the price in suffering and disease. In this sense, all medicine and healing can be seen as a system of ecology.
Cassell's Dictionary of Classical Mythology by Jenny March
Copyright 1998 by Cassell and Co. in the UK
Entry on Gaia - pg. 324