It is a huge pleasure – I’m sure not only to me – to start a new season with scientific ecologist, teacher at Schumacher College and author of ‘Gaia Alchemy: The Reuniting of Science, Psyche and Soul’, Stephan Harding.
At a very young age Stephan discovered his interest in and also his concern for nature which led him to spend a lot of time with studies in biology, physics and chemistry and culminated in obtaining a Ph.D. in behavioural ecology from Oxford University. Being a former student of James Lovelock, Stephan went on to co-found Schumacher College, which offers holistic education around ecology and sustainability and where he currently teaches as Deep Ecology Research Fellow and Senior Lecturer Gaia theory, deep ecology and holistic science.
In the beginning of his academic career Stephan had the notion that something important was missing within the scientific community of teachers and students alike. The focus was very much on a pretty mechanistic quantification of nature and the love and affection for it didn’t seem to play a big role. Therefore, Stephan embarked on a journey to change that. Well-equipped with Jungian material and analysis he took upon himself to combine the science of Gaia, Earth itself, with psychological insights of alchemy, in other words, to (re)-unify science and soul.
In this episode of our show, we will first introduce Lovelock’s Gaia theory and reflect upon Earth’s four major components – rocks, water, beings and atmosphere – and how their interactions can be studied through means of cybernetics and system science.
Of course, we will discuss Stephan’s most recent book in detail which offers an excellent introduction of the different transformational stages of alchemical processes and explains how they relate to both Gaia’s history and internal alchemy.
As Stephan is a co-founder of Schumacher College near Totnes, Devon in Great Britain, he will tell us quite a bit about the place which is just meant for exploring rather daring ideas with the main aim to understand why modern human beings are destroying their planet and how this process can be healed.
In this context, we will also talk about ‘Deep Ecology’ as a science of recognising and dealing with the relationships between different parts of nature, Ecosophia as ecological wisdom and how Gaia Alchemy ties in with these concepts. In the end Stephan will take some time to explain quite a few fascinating ideas such as ‘Deep Time’ and what exactly living a ‘Gaian alchemical life’ means and highlight his hopes for the future of our civilisation.