“You join us on Duckford High Street, where the local Boggies are staging a charity swim-along for the area's great-crested newts. Excuse me, madam - what will you buy the newts with the money you raise? Oh, you want to remove the newts? The Gaian of Duckford is… squeamish - really? Oh, but your friend in the rather fetching newt suit seems to think the Gaian likes newts? Ah. Now I'm sure the two of you can settle this without undue… oh. Perhaps if I just, just remove myself from the situation… sorry, coming through. Carry on, everyone….”
The Bodyguards of Gaia (commonly referred to as “Boggies”) are devoted to the protection of Gaian interests. Formally a confederacy of groups with a focus on Gaians, they retain a loose (some might say non-existent) organisational structure. Membership is not restricted to witches - indeed, some of the most prominent members have no magical inclinations whatsoever.
Humans have had dealings with Gaians throughout history. Such interactions have shaped human cultures and their relationship with the natural world; more recently, it has been established that Gaians themselves may be affected by their association with humans. The Industrial Revolution saw the sudden appearance of a great many Gaians of Air, associated with the changing cities. In 1865, following strong objections from some Earth Gaians who saw human actions as disrupting the natural balance, a new public body called the Assembly of Residents was formed in Britain. The Assembly laid out new guidelines for the management of British land on the principle that established Gaians should have their interests represented. These guidelines formed the basis of the Natural Accord, contrived in 1895 to protect selected Gaians from undue human interference.
However, with continued urbanisation, many Gaians saw these efforts as token attempts to placate them in the face of a growing problem. Some lost patience with the formalised proceedings of the Assembly, while others saw the Accord as privileging the interests of more powerful Gaians over weaker ones. By the 1920s, feeling that the existing provisions were not fit for purpose, many Gaians were quietly making negotiations with one or other of a growing number of independent organisations.
Such organisations did not always see eye to eye. 1966 saw clashes in Buckinghamshire between FUMK (Friends of a United Milton Keynes) and the Bucks Heritage Gaian Preservation Society, as a result of what some Gaians, notably Bradwell Village, saw as a breach of agreement following the growth of his sibling, Milton Keynes. After a ruling under the Natural Accord and a retraction from Bradwell Village (who claimed he had been misquoted), the violence ended.
Such groups gained greater prominence through the counterculture movements of the 1960s and '70s. The Bodyguards of Gaia came about as a gradual integration of several of these groups, a fusion whose origin can be traced back to Furious Harmony, a much celebrated rock festival held just outside Brighton in 1976. Initially a confederacy of such groups, the Boggies formed into a fully unified entity over the following decade.
Following the dissolution of the Assembly of Residents in 1983, UK government policy towards Gaians has been primarily shaped through the work of NGOs - and with significant recent advances in research and with their international membership, the Bodyguards have established themselves as the most high-profile pressure group representing Gaian interests in the UK and worldwide.
The Bodyguards of Gaia has a Committee of sorts, theoretically tasked with establishing common policy. The Committee is currently made up of over 50 prominent members with no clear leadership - titled positions include Quite Significant Fen Funds Officer and Urban Megafauna Marketing Strategist. Many committee members formally chaired smaller groups that are now integrated into the Boggies; the Secretary is tasked with herding them towards some kind of common goal.
Somehow, large Convocations are held biannually - usually in a field on the outskirts of Brighton, where air, earth and water are deemed to be in balance. These meetings are open to all members, frequently go on for days, and involve a large quantity of alcohol.
The Boggies' primary purpose is to cultivate a good working relationship between humans and Gaians. This has proven more difficult than first thought - politics between Gaians are complex, and human involvement is all too often characterised by favouritism or undue meddling. To gain a better understanding of how to diplome with Gaians, it has been necessary to undertake in-depth study of the relationships between these spirits of place.
The problem is complicated by the apparently contradictory messages given by particular Gaians on different occasions - a Gaian may approve a plan for its domain today, and then vehemently oppose the same plan tomorrow. The reasons for such communication problems are yet to be fully understood.
Disagreements between Boggies therefore typically stem from differences in opinion regarding which of a pair of opposing Gaians to side with, or which of a specific Gaian's two mutually exclusive requests to honour.
Having first made headlines coordinating the care of Birmingham (a Gaian well known for her persistent low moods, but who seems to be making some progress in the wake of Hassan's development plan), Hassan is the go-to person for Gaians seeking to make changes in their lives. Hassan made a seamless move to the Boggies from the Assembly of Residents in the 1980s.
Once the lead singer of punk band Daze Chain, Jinx was until recently the public face of a number of the Boggies' campaigns. She was dropped owing to a series of public relations gaffes in which she repeatedly described Water Gaians as “basically unfuckable”. Nowadays, she rarely involves herself in group politics, claiming that “everyone just needs to calm the fuck down, you know?”