One day last year, walking along a nearby mountain stream, I entered a place that felt sacred and mysterious. Shaded by a grove of willows, the creek’s waters gently flowed and purled around some stepping stones, evoking a sense of quiet, of waiting. I felt the presence of a water spirit and started singing to her. Very soon she began to sing back. She ended up giving me a beautiful song, which I was fortunately able to echo and record, line by line, as she sang it. When it was over, with great gratitude I inquired, “is this a song from the Mother of the Waters?” And I heard very clearly: “No, it is a song from a Mother of the Waters.” [Read more…] about The Flowing Green Love of Autumn
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The other day a friend and I were having a discussion about the future of this planet and of humanity. She asserted that since humanity is of Planet Earth just as much as any other lifeform here, all the human-caused disasters that are happening—forest fires, floods, droughts and heat waves, air and water pollution, even extinctions and climate disruption—are “natural.”
Well, on one level that’s hard to deny, unless humans were dropped off here long ago by an alien spaceship (a theory that I don’t find so far-fetched sometimes!) But, nevertheless, I felt myself resisting the idea that the heartbreaking mess we’re in right now, with the biosphere near collapse all around the globe, can be excused as merely natural. If natural means acting according to our true nature, can we really say that humans are “naturally” unconcerned about our impact on the planet; that we’re naturally uncaring and even hateful toward our fellow creatures? [Read more…] about What is Natural?
We normally think of our hearts as “belonging” to us. And yes, our heart is undeniably part of our physical body, as a muscle ceaselessly pumping our blood around, and literally keeping us alive.
On the emotional level, we are told early and often that our hearts “belong” to romantic love.
This begins as the simple, adolescent love of infatuation, which, ideally, matures into more nuanced, balanced love for a partner and for families and friends. [Read more…] about Whose Heart Is It?
A familiar metaphor refers to the fish not perceiving the ocean even while she swims in its all-pervasive waters. Similarly, we modern humans usually have no idea of the ubiquitous anti-Nature, anti-Earth beliefs and assumptions we “swim” in as part of the human-created world.
One of the most pernicious human supremacist ideas—reflected in science and technology, spirituality, and everyday life—is separation. We’ve been conditioned to consider ourselves separate from and external to the rest of creation. We believe we possess both the right and the ability to use and manipulate everything on Earth for human-defined ends. But even when our intentions are good, we would do well to heed what plant ecologist Frank Egler said almost 100 years ago: Nature is not only more complex than we think; it is more complex than we can ever think. [Read more…] about Undoing Our Separation from Gaia
What does it mean to be indigenous? Ecologist and author Eileen Crist, in a recent interview, usefully outlines 3 principles held by all indigenous cultures. Indigenous people live sustainably and bioregionally, that is, they live “within the contours of the land.” They regularly celebrate the natural world through an annual cycle of festivals and ceremonies. And they see “everything as alive, as wondrous in itself.” *
In other words, indigenous people don’t simply love “the land” in the abstract—they know themselves as part of the place on Earth where they live. They’re not just casually attentive to the more-than-human world of Nature around them—they experience themselves living within it, in a web of relationship that is continually studied, affirmed and celebrated. And they don’t pray to a remote, abstract God—they attune with the immanent spiritual energies, beings, and deities of the land around them. Indigenous people’s personal and community lives continually mirror and express these realities, from birth to death, from a long-ago past to a calmly beckoning future. [Read more…] about Recovering Our Indigeneity