Today is the 35th anniversary of ‘Earth Day’ in America (it is usually celebrated on the Vernal Equinox in the rest of the world). In honor of the event, here are a few modern Pagan voices on our faith(s), Earth Day, environmentalism, and living an “earth-centered” faith.
“Make no mistake about it, the most effective environmental activism is inspired, fed and sustained by spiritual sensibility and magical practice! Every legislated environmental gain remains subject to both the whims of the electorate and the manipulations of the corporate paradigm, therefore any lasting healing or return to balance depends upon a revival of Earth-consciousness and nature-honoring values, species-inclusive ritual, spell and prayer. This is our calling, the calling of all fully aware and deeply empathic beings, and of those of us devoted to a magical life.” – Earthen Spirituality Project and Women’s Center
“LIVE in HOPE and WORK for the future. That means: don’t just see the dirty river or the trash on the banks: see the sparkling water that COULD be there if effort is made now. LIVE as if the Earth is generously allowing us to stay here, and as if She might toss us out on our butts any minute if we don’t clean up our act. HOPE that government and local organizations will start to clean up natural parks and communal areas. But know that all of us can and must WORK to make this happen. That might mean something as simple as picking up a bag of trash every couple of weeks until others start to take the hint. (I have been doing this in my own favorite nearby nature spot: Franklin Park, part of Boston’s Emerald Necklace, an amazing historic park designed by Frederic Law Olmsted, that sometimes has more than its share of trash). Start your own local society for the preservation of your favorite spot! You’d be surprised to find how many others in your community would be willing to clean up a park they also like to use. One tear from Iron Eyes Cody was all it ever took for me… to this day I cannot understand why people litter with impunity. I mean, I really don’t get it. But I am willing to set an example, anyway. LIVE as if there’s a point to it all, as if a healthy lifestyle is actually making a difference not just to yourself, but to your loved ones, and to all humanity. HOPE that our frenzied consumer culture will evolve and start to see the problems with going too fast, buying too much, and not cleaning up after ourselves. But this takes WORK. Study alternatives to the status quo. Walk or bike to school or your job. Find a farm in your state that raises natural poultry and see if your local stores will stock their products. Turn off your cellphone. Turn off the computer. Take a walk. Smile up at the sky. Hug a tree. Love your Mother. Go outside already! What are you waiting for? Tomorrow?” – Peg Aloi, Witchvox.com
“We recognize that the interconnected life-systems of the earth, in all their diversity, have a right to be and an inherent value that goes beyond their usefulness for human ends. We also recognize that human life and culture depends on the health of the ecosystems that sustain all life on earth, and that our understanding of their complex interrelationships is still embryonic. Therefore, our prime concern must be the health of the environment, of the earth, the air, and the waters, and the diverse matrices of biological life. Any government that allows the despoiling of its own lands has failed in its primary responsibility to its people. We support laws and programs that further environmental preservation, conservation, habitat restoration and healing. We oppose laws that allow the exploitation of the environment for the ends of individuals or small groups of people. We oppose programs that work toward the loss of biological diversity, or that allow individuals, institutions or corporations to claim ownership of a universal genetic and biological heritage. We know that toxicity is unfairly distributed and is often foisted onto indigenous communities, communities of people of color and of poor people. We work for environmental justice and for urban environments that can be safe, healthy and sustainable. We support the creation of rural jobs in ways that work with the environment and can be sustained in the long run. We support the absolute right of indigenous people to protect their sacred lands from despoiling and development. We recognize that human beings have a right to live and to draw on the resources of the environment to create our livelihood. We believe that this can and must be done in ways that are compassionate, sustainable and that further the overall quality of life. We favor solution-oriented responses to environmental problems.” – Starhawk, Five Point Agenda
“Rather than trying to be revived ancient Somebodies-or-Other, rather than trying to adapt or adopt Native spirituality (which is itself inconsistent and in a state of flux with many variations), I would rather see my fellow Pagans focus on becoming rooted. I am not proposing some agrarian fantasy of instant peasant-hood here, nor am I ruling out people’s needs or desires to move around occasionally. But when we are in a place, let’s be in. Let us truly learn from it and learn about it. Let us feel its tides and changes in our lives. I think that someone who knows the flow of water, the songs of birds, and the needs of grasses has a basic store of knowledge that puts flesh on the claim she makes that something is ‘sacred.'” – Chas Clifton, Nature Religion for Real
“In the old days, religions and spiritual traditions changed as society changed. They were designed to factor in the climate, the animal life, and the seasonal changes, which are totally different at the North Pole than they are at the equator. But once you begin containing religion in a book, you get a worldwide institution based on what some desert dwellers thought in 3000 B.C., or the year one. It’s got nothing to do with the bunch grass around us, or the turkey vultures, or the seasons here, the way the rain falls or doesn’t fall. So the religious texts, just like magazine articles, are the opinion or the perception of one person, instead of the collective consciousness of a whole tribe. Change and dynamics are inherent in a pagan culture, where traditions are passed along orally, with subtle but important changes from generation to generation. But in a culture with the written word, one person can write something down, and for the next millennium, millions of people will follow what one person wrote instead of everybody forming a culture collectively and dynamically over time.” – Darryl Cherney
“Neopagan Druidism is political because only a Nature worshipping religion can give people sufficient concern for the environment to make them willing to make the sacrifices that must be made in terms of lifestyle and consumption patterns. Monotheism is a major cause of the current state of the world?s ecology. We need a strong public religion that tells the polluters, ‘No, it’s not divinely sanctioned for you to rape the Earth, no matter what it says in your scriptures.'” – Issac Bonewits, The Political Implications of Neopagan Druidism