Posts tagged ‘environmentalism’

Nature/Green/Eco-Spirituality isn’t always Pagan

Like all the Centers of Paganism, the Nature-center definitely extends beyond the bounds of Paganism. There has been a general rise globally in ecological awareness in both secular and religious contexts, and Pagans have most certainly played a role in the latter. But seeing nature as sacred and worthy of protection and/or preservation is not a uniquely Pagan feature!

In my opinion, making an effort to conserve resources and be ecologically mindful is just part of being a good citizen of planet Earth. You can have some theological rationale for it, like regarding the Earth as a living being (the Gaia hypothesis), being a steward of the Earth (as in the Abrahamic faiths) seeing everything as divine (pantheism) or see many spirits as being part of nature (animism) You can even combine some of these beliefs as many people do. Or you can simply regard the Earth and all its creatures (including humans) in a scientific manner. I think the important thing is what you do, not why you do it!

For indigenous people, the issue of sovereignty and habitat preservation is important to maintain traditional relationships with the land, animals and plants- and thus their cultures. For example, with global climate change, the warming of Arctic areas is having an adverse effect on the reindeer herds that the Saami people of Scandinavia & Russia depend on. Closer to home (for myself) the Idle No More movement led by First Nation people in Canada has been gaining steam, including some support from polytheists and Pagans.

One approach that can be easily incorporated, regardless of a person’s location and culture, includes scientific information and gives a lot of space for various theological views and practice, is bioregional animism.

The intersection of ecology and religion (and socio-political implications related to it) is very broad and complex, so I’ll go into more specific aspects of it in other posts. For now here’s a preliminary list of reading to get you started. (To be frank I have not read most of them- with the exception of Creation Spirituality!) As time goes on and I read more, I will post reviews- for one I am very interested in Lupa’s works.

Books-

Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality & the Planetary Future by Bron Taylor

Animism: Respecting the Living World by Graham Harvey

The Wakeful World: Animism, Mind and the Self in Nature by Emma Restall Orr

The Earth Path: Grounding Your Spirit in the Rhythyms of Nature by Starhawk

Plant & Fungus Totems, New Paths to Animal Totems, DIY Totemism, other works by Lupa- see her website Green Wolf for more info

Ecoshamanism by James Endredy

Original Blessing, Creation Spirituality, other works by Matthew Fox (from a Catholic viewpoint, but much of it applicable/inspiring to people of other traditions

Bibliography of Earth-based Judaism– Tel Shemesh

May 19, 2015 at 1:37 am 5 comments

Finding my Path Again

As Paganicon approaches, I find myself re-evaluating my (rather dormant!) spiritual path. I think for the past year, with the depression, it’s kind of like I’ve been wandering through the mists and need to find the path again, only to find it rather hidden and overgrown. I need to do some weeding, replace broken pavement stones and such. Being a caretaker of an old house, these home maintenance analogies come very easily to mind!

My main focus has had to be managing the depression, becoming active and involved with my communities in a sustainable manner that helps me get away from sitting at home alone stewing in my thoughts. One aspect of that has been becoming a Director of the Bisexual Organizing Project, a way to give myself a job (even if unpaid) with responsibilities that helps me develop my self-confidence and skills. The next step is to psych myself up enough to start looking for work again. I don’t have a specific idea of what I want to do, mainly Please Not Customer Service!!! Or at least not certain types. This time I would like to network with other people with disabilities- particularly learning disabilities/autism/developmental disabilities, and perhaps their family members and so forth.

Anyway, I am ignoring spiritual approaches that others do that don’t seem helpful to my situation (the Put the Gods first type stuff) and looking for ones that do seem helpful. I am looking for spiritual practices that might help me build up my confidence, reduce my anxieties, and re-direct negative though patterns in positive directions. I am not sure if I believe in magic, but if I’m not mistaken there are magical techniques that are more about changing how you think than changing the world around you. Without being totally, The Secret and the power of positive thinking can totally solve your problems!!!

I am also trying to back away from more intense and extreme versions of activism and social justice stuff. I’ve noticed that I feel good about going to meetings and doing things in person, but online discussions have a tendency to get really negative and depressing, so I am avoiding or at least being more selective about participating in them. In particular, climate change/Big Environmental Problems OMG!! are things I avoid, which is difficult because it’s also a big thing at Unity Unitarian. I have sat through at least two sermons about environmental destruction one of which listed in detail all the types of species that were endangered or going extinct that made me cry. It was like, yes I get it, humanity has messed up, and all this bad stuff is happening, but there wasn’t much space in the sermon for redemption, and oh here’s something small and manageable that you can actually do. It just fills you with despair, not a desire to be active. There’s also a lot of elitist baggage involved which is really alienating to someone who doesn’t have much money.

The other political area that I have to get away from for sanity reasons is the anti-capitalism and anarchism. I am not an anarchist, but I hang out with some of them online, and they can be cool people with whom I agree with some things. But a lot of the stuff they write I have to avoid, it’s like drinking a giant depression dose. I am skeptical of capitalism in many ways, and I realize it has a lot of problems but I kind of need to set that aside and well believe in it enough to go find a job, keep it etc. It seems like we’ve gone to the opposite extreme of Keeping Up with the Joneses, to a contest of who can intentionally live the simplest life on the least amount of money, involving the least amount of working for “The Man” and feeling morally superior to people who have regular jobs. When I signed up to be Pagan, that didn’t mean signing up to be poor. Wanting a decent job does not automatically make me Scrooge. I feel like we can’t have real discussions about these things because there is too much political division. Well that was long enough. More on the path development thing another day!

March 6, 2015 at 11:24 pm 7 comments

Bioregionalism

Bioregionalism is one of many environmental ideologies- there are so many to study and comprehend- and I think there is something we can learn from all of them- environmentalists like many others can get into One True Way-ism and dogmatism and I think to avoid that a more “multi-pronged” approach is best. Bioregionalism seems to be one that I think could be very insightful and useful to developing a locally based spiritual practice and learning to engage with the natural world and local culture in a sustainable manner.  This website on Bioregional Animism was the first place I saw this idea proposed.

Bioregionalism is a political, cultural, economic ideology focused on bioregions- areas defined by ecological traits, such as the watershed, geological makeup and wildlife. Bioregionalism sees nature and human culture as interconnected, and seeks harmonious interconnection between the two. In that way it differs from other environmental ideologies that see human culture as “the enemy”. It favors decentralizing political power to bio-regions, which sometimes cross international boundaries.  Size-wise eco-zones are the largest, followed by bio-regions and eco-regions. (All this is kinda new to me, I’d only heard of bio-regions and biomes. )

Key points of Bioregionalism from Wikipedia:

*Ensure that political boundaries match ecological boundaries.[7]
*Highlight the unique ecology of the bioregion.
*Encourage consumption of local foods where possible.
*Encourage the use of local materials where possible.
*Encourage the cultivation of native plants of the region.
*Encourage sustainability in harmony with the bioregion.[8]

I’ll set aside the political boundary aspect for now, though it would be an interest idea to consider for organizing Pagan groups.

Resources:

Radical Ecology: the Search for a Livable World by Carolyn Merchant

This is an excellent side-by-side comparison of different green/environmental schools of thought, from deep ecology, eco-feminism, to eco-anarchism etc.

Ideas for adapting spiritual practice to local ecology:

Re-Vamping the Nine Sacred Woods– a Witch in Texas “tweaks” the British Isles tradition of 9 sacred woods for a Beltaine fire with trees that live in her area

A Pacific Northwest Ogham– by  John Michael Greer ” The process of creating a tree-Ogham appropriate to the Puget Sound country – or any other environment sufficiently different from northwestern Europe — is not unlike that of translating poetry from one language to another. Inevitably, some meanings are lost, and others are gained which were not present in the original. The tree-Ogham that follows should be considered a first, rather exploratory venture in this direction. If Druidry is relevant to the whole world, though – and I believe that it is – it must be able to put down roots in forests very different from the ones where it originally grew. There must someday be a cactus-Ogham for the Arizona deserts and a jungle-Ogham for the rain forests of northern Australia.”

JMG & AODA in general really walk their talk in their efforts at both spiritual connection to nature and advocacy for sustainability in the broader world

Australian Wildflower Oracle– review of a lovely divination tool. This blogger is working on writing about Australian native flora & fauna herself.

Waincraft: Resources & Links. Waincraft is a new neo-Pagan tradition (originally an outgrowth of Vanatru) that is  a general religious framework that can be adapted to ones’ bioregion and cultural focus.

American Wights by Svartesol, Gullinbursti Press  A Heathen approach to American spirits may be useful to non-Heathens as well. I am having trouble finding a copy of this but have heard good reviews of it.

Kill You and Eat You! Or, a Well-Intentioned Celt’s Guide to Non-Celtic Bioregions

Another PBP post on Bioregionalism from Thalassa, Musings of a Kitchen Witch. (added Feb 3rd)

Please add to my lists of resources in the comments. They may need to get their own page(s).

January 25, 2014 at 1:19 am 2 comments


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