An Earth Religion?
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A Circle of people stand in the midst of a beautiful green field, tightly and joyously hand-in-hand. A small bonfire burns gently in the center of their Circle, sending its warmth and light all about. The Circle of people dance round the flame, singing and chanting their special songs, and paying honor to the Earth in this religious rite. Their Earth-based religion has taught them over the ages to respect and worship their world, and to love Her as something sacred.
Who are these Earth-worshipers? An ancient Druid grove, or a Native American tribe? A band of Aborigines in the South Pacific, or perhaps a Coven of modern-day urban Pagans? Over time many have practiced Earth-based religions, where our planet is revered as a Deity. The followers of today's Earth religions still hold a special reverence for Mother Earth, but often do not have that same personal contact with Her that their ancestors felt. We no longer listen to the wind to find our food; we don't speak to the clouds to ask for rain. While we still may love and worship the Earth, we've outgrown many of our dependencies, at least the everyday dependencies that have been replaced with modern-day conveniences. Where the Earth was once our Mother, a member of our immediate family, perhaps to some She is now more like a distant cousin.
This distance sometimes causes us to speak of the Earth in vague, macro terms. We worship what we call the Earth, but what exactly does "Earth" mean? Is your kitchen table part of the Earth? Does it have an Earth Spirit? And what about the food you eat at that table? Is your dinner part of the Earth too? Your favorite jewelry? Your copper plumbing? Your telephone wires? The answer here is obviously yes, but it's not always easy to bridge the gap between broad spiritual concepts and tangible everyday things. Ordinary things are sacred too and being ordinary makes them no less special. That same Earth essence living in the lush green forest also lives in all the simple objects we see and touch every day. So, perhaps you can find an aspect of the Earth on the streets you travel each day, even if those streets are filled with busy traffic. Perhaps you can find an aspect of the Earth within your home-town, your neighborhood, your home, your own bed. If you see a bit of the Earth's Spirit in all things around you, then you can revere and worship the Earth in a much more personal way, more face-to-face, more one-on-one.
Earth worshipers often hold special reverence for natural settings, the woods, the beach, the mountains. But are things made by humans any less Earthly? We too are part of the Earth, not something separate. We are linked to it, part of the same whole, and therefore so are the things we build. We make things because it is our nature to do so, like a forest makes trees and like trees make leaves. So, while you may discover the mysteries of nature by watching a river flow, you can also find a few lessons by watching a railroad. Can the hot and cold knobs of your faucet help you understand balance between opposites? Can pondering your electrical outlets give you new sources of energy? Can the telephone help you feel how all things link together? Can washing and waxing your floor teach you anything about cleansing and protecting yourself from negativity?
Perhaps "worship" is not always the right word for every situation. But you can certainly relate to and talk with every person, place and thing you encounter in a very special way! Have an old comfortable chair? When was the last time you told it just how much you appreciate it? Perhaps an "offering" of polish or oil for its wood would be greatly appreciated, like a back-rub for any hard-working friend! Do you have a special place where children love to play, like a park, a field, a sandbox, a porch? Try thanking this special piece of the Earth for the happiness it brings; ask it to continue providing its safe guardianship over our little loved ones. Even thanking your parking space counts. This does not include asking for a parking space when you need one, but saying thank you before you leave one. (There's a big difference between saying please -- and saying thank you!)
Not only can Earth worshipers narrow their focus to recognize ordinary things, but we can also widen it too. Earth is but one of several planets orbiting a single star. Do all the planets have Spirit the way the Earth does? Are they part of nature too? Some say that stones and boulders and rocks are alive. What greater boulder could you find than one of our planets? Does our Solar System, this Coven of planets orbiting the Sun, have some type of collective Spirit? (Can this help explain astrology?) Our star, like the small bonfire burning gently in the center of our Circle, sends its warmth and light all about. A Circle of planets dance round its flame, singing and chanting their special songs. But it is only an average star, one of many stars in an average galaxy, one of many galaxies within a very, very big universe.
So, if we are part of a vast universe, is my Earth religion somewhat self-centered? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on whether you recognize just how vast nature really is. It is only natural that we hold most dear our "immediate family" of the Earth. Hopefully, we still recognize that we are part of a much larger family, a community of all things, reaching out from across our kitchen table or across the galaxy, tightly and joyously hand-in-hand. In this way, worshipping the Earth becomes a key that unlocks our relationship to all things, whether vast or very small and simple.
Suggested Pdf Resources
- The Earth Charter Guide to Religion and Climate Change
- Earth Charter Coordinator, Jacob Soetendorp Institute for Human Values. Earth Charter Task Force on Religion, Spirituality, and Ethics. MSlaby@Soetendorp.
- 1 The Earth Charter Task Force on Religion, Spirituality, and Ethics
- concerned with religion, spirituality, ethics, and the Earth Charter.
- Religion & Earth Ethics
- This Sacred Earth: Religion, Nature, Environment. New York & London: Routledge. Kinsley, D.
- Earth and Nature-Based Spirituality (Part I): From Deep Ecology to
- spirituality and thereby to understand contemporary earth-based religion. .
Suggested News Resources
- Paganism and the Decline of “Religion”
- We can't know the answer because there are those who publicly self-identify in an Earth-religions category ad then there are those others who say–I don't go to church really.
- Tougher Questions for the Candidates
- In your 2007 speech on religion, you said that “freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom.” Where does that leave unbelievers, in your view? 2.
- Stephen on Steve: The most important man on Earth
- People don't hate people because they drive a gold Maserati rather than, an, um, what do ghastly-carpet people drive, a Vauxhall ... but when it comes to religion ...
- 17 ways humanity's first contact with aliens could go down
- if it happens it's going to cause massive changes to everything from science to religion, even if we find out nothing else besides the fact that ETI do exist.
Suggested Web Resources
- Earth religion - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Earth religion is a New Age term used mostly in the context of Neopaganism.
- Wicca, the religion
- Feb 2, 2011 "When one defines oneself as Pagan, it means she or he follows an earth or nature religion, one that sees the divine manifest in all creation.
- Amazon.com: This Sacred Earth: Religion, Nature, Environment
- Amazon.com: This Sacred Earth: Religion, Nature, Environment ( 9780415943604): Roger Gottlieb: Books.
- Earth-Religion and the Troth of the North
- usually have the sense to accept the situation as natural and even desirable. Thus, there is not, nor can there be, any official description of "Earth-Religion".
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