All Our Relations: Pagans and the more-than-human world.

For aware Pagans the Sacred encompasses us all, rivers and mountains, oceans and deserts, grasses and trees, fish and fungi, birds and animals. Understanding the implications of what this means, and how to experience it first hand, involves our growing individually and as a community well beyond the limits of this world-pathic civilization. All Our Relations exists to help fertilize this transition.

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Earth Day 2015: a Pagan take

 

Earth day symbolizes Americans’, some of us anyway, beginning to experience this land as our home rather than a real estate investment, crash pad, or monument to our ego.  It is a place we love and within which we find renewal and meaning.  And we feel blessed to live here and want to take care of it, and to give back some of what we have received.

Earth Day is a wonderful legacy from “the Sixties,” the off spring of Senator Gaylord Nelson and some students back in 1970, who sought to begin changing a cultural and economic mindset that was blind as the Titanic steaming full speed towards an iceberg.     If we eventually turn this civilization from ramming its own (much warmer) iceberg, future historians will recognize this day as Americans’ first recognition of the needed change in outlook.

Earth Day and what it represents reminds us there is a larger context to human life than our power to anonymously kill others on the other side of the globe, larger than the egos of our political and industrial elites, larger even than the fantasies of those who would ultimately make the universe their toy. While it is easy today to despair over our failure to address the issue of global warming, we should remember that there has already been a remarkable change from the values of the mid Twentieth Century.  Today it is hard to imagine the schemes to treat our planet as a stone on which elites would carve the sculptures of their choice.  There were serious schemes to cut the tops off the hills around San Francisco Bay, using the fill they created to build subdivisions where today there is water.  There was a serious proposal to detonate an atomic bomb under part of Panama,   to instantaneously create a sea level canal.  There were plans to dam the Yukon River to make the biggest reservoir of all time.  America then was as drunk on the power of technology as it is today on the power of violence.

In our awareness of what remains to be done, let us not forget what has been done, and honor it this day.

How?

Of all our national holidays, Earth Day is the one that most directly honors a Pagan sensibility.  As Pagans most of us honor the Earth when we celebrate its powers and the cycles of earthly existence. We Wiccans do so through observing the Wheel of the Year and the primal dance of Feminine and Masculine through our lives. Others do so in their own ways.

And this seems to me guidance in how to honor this time: not by political activism on the earth’s behalf, as important as that is.  But on experiencing as deeply as we can its presence.

Earth Day seems to me a good day to do two things, and maybe begin a third.  First, take a hike or walk in a garden or park.  Immerse yourself in the earth unimpeded by the creations of human beings or if human elements are important, they are in harmony with the earth.  That is why a good garden or city park  can be as fitting as a state park or wilderness trail.

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Then, if you can, feel the presence of the natural world.

            Modern science has discovered even without our being consciously aware of it, our bodies react to the complexity of the life around them, with the more complex having a better impact than the less. Increasingly, leading biological researchers are considering our bodies  animate ecosystems or super organisms    rather than the traditional image of an organism distinct from its environment.  Among other things, this insight means our boundaries are far more open to the world than our society used to acknowledge. We interpenetrate, and always have.

This openness can be felt.

            My belief is that the beneficial effects arise from being immersed within more intricate web of energy fields from interconnected organisms within a more complex environment.  We can learn to see and feel these fields, and I have explained how.  To learn, focus on exercises 1 and 2. They will not take long and can transform your experience of reality. They certainly did mine, long ago.

If you have the space there is a third thing you can do.  Create a small altar open to the air. Outdoors is best, on the ground or even on a balcony.  Light a weekly candle there or as I have done for years, pour a little of your morning coffee on a rock to honor the spirits of the place before drinking any for yourself.  In my experience, in time your yard will come alive, and you will feel it.

But you do not need to acquire these skills to benefit from immersing yourself in nature for a while, and Earth day is a good day to do it. 

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Gus diZerega DiZerega combines a formal academic training in Political Science with decades of work in Wicca and shamanic healing. He is a Third Degree Elder in Gardnerian Wicca, studied closely with Timothy White who later founded Shaman’s Drum magazine, and also studied Brazilian Umbanda  for six years under Antonio Costa e Silva.

DiZerega holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from UC Berkeley, has taught and lectured in the US and internationally, and has organized international academic meetings.

His newest book is "Faultlines: the Sixties, the Culture Wars, and the Return of the Divine Feminine (Quest, 2013) received a 'silver' award by the Association of Independent Publishers for 2014. It puts both modern Pagan religion and the current cultural and political crisis in the US into historical context, and shows how they are connected.

His first book on Pagan subjects, "Pagans and Christians: The Personal Spiritual Experience," won the Best Nonfiction of 2001 award from  The Coalition of Visionary Resources. 

His second,"Beyond the Burning Times: A Pagan and a Christian in Dialogue" is what it sounds like. He coauthored it with Philip Johnson. DiZerega particularly like his discussion of polytheism in Burning Times, which in his view is an advance over the discussion in Pagans and Christians.

His pen and ink artwork supported his academic research in graduate school and frequently appeared in Shaman’s Drum, and the ecological journals Wild Earth, and The Trumpeter. It now occasionally appears in this blog.

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