Jump to content

Approaching Nature Spirituality


Recommended Posts

For the past year or so I have been interested in exploring nature spirituality. I see myself as a spiritual being, even though I seem to have left Christianity behind. I feel I am somehow connected to the whole, and that there may be more to life than what we have currently been able to understand. But rather than trying to forge a doctrine of one kind or another, I have begun to respect it as a mystery that can likely never be solved. The purpose of life is to live it. I would like to list two sources of influence that I have had. Both of them seem to make sense and offer reliable results. The first one is:

 

http://marthabeck.com/

 

Her books "Finding your North Star" and "Steering by Starlight" were given to me by a non-christian relative who saw my struggles with finding my place in this world. Martha is an ex-mormon who believes very strongly in finding the path that is right for you, defined by you yourself. She flirts with the supernatural but leaves it for each individual to determine its nature. This was the beginning for me, a glimpse of hope in the dusty corridors of Christian dogma. The second source is this:

 

http://www.aoda.org/

 

And the writings of John Michael Greer in general, a sample of which can be had in his blog:

 

http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/

 

My dream at the moment is to forge myself a path that makes sense even if the supernatural part of it would fail. To define something as holy would thus require to be something to be "set apart for the greater good" even if no god existed and this material reality was all we had. The wealth of nature is then a logical target of reverence. The sun gives us almost all of our energy, in one form or another. Pure water is essential for sustaining life, as well as clean air. The biodiversity around us, especially topsoil, provide us with the food we eat. Thus all of them are quite deserving of our respect. In my corner of the world spring is when it is windy, so performing a ritual to thank the winds and air during spring equinox seems appropriate. Thanking the sun in summer solstice seems logical. It rains quite a lot in autumn, so offering thanks for water then sounds fine. During winter solstice we eat the harvest that is stored, what the land under our feet has given to us, so respecting that then is a healthy reminder for us when little food can be found in the wild. We all depend our life on what the nature can provide for us, and not upsetting the cycles of nature would be a grand idea regardless of any faith in the supernatural.

 

With the coming collapse of industrial civilization, it would seem like a good idea to embrace a belief system that would point towards a more sustainable life. A good deed would then be that which is good for the people and for the planet, and a "sin" would be that which would hurt either or both of them. This I suppose how some of the laws of the old testament were forged too. Eating an animal that had died by itself was not that good an idea, so it was branded "unclean" and "sinful". So there was a bit of useful advice there, even if it came with a whole lot of nonsense as well. The problem with that set doctrine was that if more insights were gained elsewhere, they could not have been incorporated all that effectively to the existing doctrine. By accepting uncertainty and a possibility of endless revisions such problems can be avoided. Instead of "holy -> good" we have "good -> holy". It still leaves the problem of defining just what exactly is adequate for being called "good", but at least it is not as arbitrary.

 

So in essence, I am dreaming I could join AODA and begin a life of a druid. I would love to build a meeting place to the woods by planting a certain species of a tree that grows quickly and can be easily shaped to different forms. Over the course of years it would grow into a kind of a living dome that is strongly rooted to the ground. I would like to begin to live a life that is not as hurtful to the planet as my current one is. I would love to grow a good part of my own food and reduce my use of energy in a number of ways. There is a farm nearby that is trying to seek a way of living that is more sustainable. They welcome like-minded people to their community and even offer some help in constructing your home there (I believe you can first live in their main building by paying a modest rent for a modest life). This dream that

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

My dream at the moment is to forge myself a path that makes sense even if the supernatural part of it would fail.

I can understand that.

 

It sounds like you want to be strongly connected to nature and the seasonal rhythms. I can understand that. What I'd suggest is just going ahead and starting. I especially recommend getting out into nature on a regular basis. Start identifying the species you come across. Learn about them and the role they play in their ecosystems. Visit them regularly if you can and learn how they change over time.

 

I would love to build a meeting place to the woods by planting a certain species of a tree that grows quickly and can be easily shaped to different forms. Over the course of years it would grow into a kind of a living dome that is strongly rooted to the ground.

OK, what kind of tree are you thinking of?

 

I would love to grow a good part of my own food and reduce my use of energy in a number of ways. There is a farm nearby that is trying to seek a way of living that is more sustainable. They welcome like-minded people to their community and even offer some help in constructing your home there (I believe you can first live in their main building by paying a modest rent for a modest life).

The only thing I'd caution you about here is that communes can be as manipulative and cultic as some churches. Get to know them well before you commit to anything.

 

This dream that

 

Your post apparently got cut off, so I don't know what you said after this.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Many older religions and spiritualities honor nature and the Earth, not just Druids. But if Druidry is what you're comfortable with, go for it - I find it rather nice. Just not for me.

You can also simply honor nature if your own ways. Take mindful hikes, plant a garden, sunbathe, etc.

Anyway, best of luck to you on your search. May you find your spiritual home. :)

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 months later...
The only thing I'd caution you about here is that communes can be as manipulative and cultic as some churches. Get to know them well before you commit to anything.

 

Skepticism and questioning is the way to go for sure. Live by experience, and if Druidry is where your soul takes you then awesome! I relate in many ways. All my life nature has always felt, deep... peaceful. I've actually considered this path myself, but indecision is where i'm at in this moment. Nature at least is physical, and explainable.. unlike most gods.

Your plans sound well thought out and delightful! I wish you luck! :)

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 months later...

Kane, what you're connecting with is known as The Tree of Life. It's an ancient model of nature, one of the first spiritual models known to have been expressed.

Whether you approach it with thanks to the sun and abundance of foods, or with a 30-06, it's up to you. We're all part of it. It's a universal tree of life, everything's a part of it. Carve your name + your lover on it, it's big enough.

 

Now that we think of the universe as a multiverse, i would think of an orchard of trees of life, as one tree represents the content of a universe.

 

Look it up, i think it you'll be glad you did.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 year later...

Nature is awesome. My mind may not be with Nature based religions, but my heart is. I would just have a hard time in something like druidry. How literal are there beliefs? Is there a lot of new agey type woo or are they fairly rational? Also the same Nature that made the Ohio, (or whatever river you can think of, that's just my river) also made male Lions eat the babies of their rivals. At that point the 30-06 sounds mighty good. Hopefully you post back if you get into this and tell us more about it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

My forage into nature spirituality was very enlightening. We are very cut off from nature in our modern society, from the cycles of the earth, the seasons, the animals and plant life... we see it as somehow separate from ourselves. We have forgotten we are a part of it - that we are intrinsically tied to our environment, and it to us. Our modern way of living actually goes against much of our own body processes ie: circadian cycles, nutrition and health, many things. For women there is the cycle of the moon and how it is almost exactly the same as our reproductive cycles... that isn't a fluke - it's how we have evolved.

 

No group can teach you this stuff... although some reading is essential.. the actual spirituality is a personal thing and takes a fair amount of effort to acquire - because you have to deprogram your self from what society has ingrained in you and find your place in nature... going out into the woods once a month for a ritual is a joke... and has nothing to do with the actual practices needed to get that re-connection with nature. There is only one way to do it, you have to go out and spend time, LOTS of time, in nature - observing it, experiencing it and also your own reactions to it. Learning to be still and silent and AWARE. It's akin to learning to meditate I think. After a few years you will begin to notice things about your environment that you haven't before... what animals come out in which season, what they do, how they do it...(birds are particularly amazing in their sensitivity to the environment) what plants come and go and their cycles of growth and such... what signs will tell your what the weather is going to be like (yes, the signs are all over - if you pay attention - nature shows us this) what insects live where and why and how they interact with other things... your also begin to notice that we also have 'seasons' and our energy, physiology and psychology changes with them too, this can be utilized for planning and accomplishment. Changing one's diet to a mainly local one makes a big difference in health and also awareness (though I won't give up citris, I need the vit C and can't eat enough greens to get all I need).

 

I started by going out every night and observing the moon, after many months I finally got to the point where I didn't need to see it to tell you what aspect it was in and where it would rise and when. Then I began to go out into natural spots to walk, and then sit and just be.. I also took the time to really look at the life around me.. as in: that's not just another bush 'ooo pretty', I'd examine it, crush it's leaves to smell it.. see what life grew or lived around or on it. (I also bought a book on local flora.. and studied herbology.. a lot of plants are useful.. some are even edible). I'd sit still.. and wait for the animal life to get used to me and go about their business and just watch them - you can learn a LOT from animals.

 

One thing I learned that was hard for me at first is this.. nature can be really cruel, but it's never wasteful. It's incredibly resilient and also fragile and it's ALL interconnected - that wasn' an intellectual thing but at the end an experiential thing. Life lives on life... and squirrels murder chipmunks (and maybe eat them?), birds are really flippin' smart, and it's all an amazing and sometimes horrifying thing. But I finally got the sense of 'my place' in this universe... I am food for something else... I am a vehicle for genes... my existence is brief and in the big scheme of things very small and almost insignificant - it's also amazing and wondrous and a gift... just to exist, to be there, experiencing it is an incredible accomplishment of nature and it's a gift... and I am grateful and spellbound by nature - the universe and it's incredible variety and expressions.

 

Finding balance between the natural world and our artificial society is the hard thing for me, unless I want to become a hermit in the woods somewhere (The thought HAS crossed my mind) I have to be able to be in BOTH worlds... hard.

 

I've spent some time within the pagan community... and have some harsh things to say... most of it is bunk, and most haven't got a clue what nature spirituality really is. They play at it.. learn the seasons and festivals and study crystal healing and blah, blah, blah... I give them credit for their desire but they don't really want to go out into nature and get DIRTY, or anything.. or go hungry or try to identify edible plants.. OR.. goodness gracious!, have to kill (hunt) to survive. But that's what nature is.. and without that you aren't practicing nature spirituality - just a poseur. (sorry... but a vegetarian would die fairly quickly if they actually had to live off the land without a modern diet.. not that I have anything against vegetarians, I don't, and my own diet is mainly plants - but we are omnivores for a reason - we can't process our own vitamins/proteins the way herbivores can, we need to get them from our environment... nature will teach you your own real 'nature')

 

(here is a test.. go camping without any modern conveniences.. just a tent, a knife, rope - essential things, a compass is always a good idea, some way to make fire and enough food to last [if you are not a hunter this might be prudent]. Go out in the woods - near a water source, not a campground, and spend say... 3 or 4 days BY YOURSELF [please read a book on safe camping first - and if you've never done it before go with a buddy - but minimal talking] and get a taste for what living with nature might have been like for our ancestors, try making something useful with minimal tools.. like a basket, or a snare - please take some way to purify water, iodine works - check for ticks regularly).

 

I have met a few who understand... and have done what it takes to learn from mother nature...and they are a marvel to spend time with... but most, seriously, are just into the woo and the rebel identity that goes with being outside the norm - although most DO have a love for our little planet - they really are still submerged in modern society... they've got their drums, they know the right words...they know the rituals (I did all that too) - but not the reason behind them, and they are full of it - even if they don't know it.  You don't need a robe.. or a wand or even mistletoe... you just need to get out and experience it. For a long time - because these cycles and experiences don't happen in a year or two - you have to live it, WITH it. That was hard for me because I'm fairly cerebral and thought I could learn this stuff from books.. but it doesn't work that way.

 

That's my experience with nature... and nature spirituality... like anything else it doesn't come easy and sometimes it's damn uncomfortable and downright terrifying... but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I learned a lot... and mostly about myself and my own species... and my inner spirituality, I actually don't like the word 'spirituality' .. it's more awareness than anything, and grounding - being put in your place by becoming aware of your environment... learning gratitude and appreciation for what you are and where you are and how incredible it all is.

 

Gardening is another way to start this journey - get your hands in the dirt, use only natural ingredients and pay attention. Grow some herbs and some vegees... learn appreciation for the food you eat. It doesn't spring up and land in the grocery store by itself.  :P

 

The philosophy and rituals of earth-based religions make a whole lot more sense (or none at all, depending) once the personal connection is actually made with nature. IMHO.

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Moderator

Ravenstar, outstanding post! 

 

You're right, really living it for yourself sort of shames the trendy witchcraft and other nature religion bandwagons going around these days. 

 

This strikes a nerve because we got into a heated debate on a private Pantheist forum last year with a male pagan practicing witchcraft. What happened is that he was trying to determine whether he was Pantheist or not and it led to some real firm position taking that he could not go along with, and thus exited the forum. We all agreed that the natural world is great and getting back to nature is admirable. But that led into something else.

 

What exactly is nature and natural and what exactly is not?

 

On the surface the mountains, forests, and oceans would logically be nature, and yet the city is clearly not nature and natural, right? 

 

Well according to the spirituality that the universe itself as a whole is divine, myself and others came forward as admitting that even the concrete jungles made by man are in some way just as sacred as a tree growing in the forest or river running through a valley.

 

How can one part of the material universe be more or less sacred or divine than another?

 

And also if man is an animal, is nature through and through and the earth itself incarnate, then why would something that we build up with the 'force' our own hands out of nature be any less natural then a mound of sand blown up by the 'force' of the wind or a canyon carved out by the 'force' of running water?

 

In a strict sense nature is always interacting with nature and everything is natural in a broad view of things because nothing can be unnatural when you really think about it. We combine and manipulate natural elements and then label it all as unnatural when everything in question is merely vibrating atoms of energy clumping together in different ways and in different formations and if we were to look around at the world in terms of the energy beneath it all, we'd see a sea of the natural energy of the universe interaction all around us including the animate and inanimate. Everything is a property of the natural universe whether in the form of concrete and metallic structures of whatever. 

 

The trendy nature pagan became hostile towards this depth of Pantheistic philosophy and implication. The cities are an abomination and we must return to the forests, right? 

 

We were talking naturalist heresy to this pagan and he was getting quite uncomfortable with the whole thing. 

 

So what emerged is a type of Pantheism suited to apply to any environment. The idea is that to see divinity in the whole of the natural universe is just that, to see it in the whole of it all bar none. I would take your time in the forest as an excellent example of natural spirituality but then also extent it to a return back to society and civilization with the realizations you've encountered. I'd think about observing society in the same way you observed the forest animals. Considering that we're of the forest animals that would make sense. I like the idea of walking around seeing divinity in everything that day to day experience has to offer and calling that Natural Spirituality regardless of location. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
What exactly is nature and natural and what exactly is not?

 

On the surface the mountains, forests, and oceans would logically be nature, and yet the city is clearly not nature and natural, right? 

 

Well according to the spirituality that the universe itself as a whole is divine, myself and others came forward as admitting that even the concrete jungles made by man are in some way just as sacred as a tree growing in the forest or river running through a valley.

 

How can one part of the material universe be more or less sacred or divine than another?

 

And also if man is an animal, is nature through and through and the earth itself incarnate, then why would something that we build up with the 'force' our own hands out of nature be any less natural then a mound of sand blown up by the 'force' of the wind or a canyon carved out by the 'force' of running water?

 

Someone explained this to me a few years ago by pointing out that we are not the only animal to alter our environment this way. Look at a bee hive, a paper wasps' nest, a bird's nest, a beaver dam. They go well past just digging a hole for their house, and go out an collect material to build structures that "nature" would never have built without them. It's somewhat arrogant to claim that we're so separate from nature and animals that our structures fall into an entirely different category. It's just as silly as claiming that industrialized food is dangerous because it contains "chemicals" (it may well be bad for us for other reasons, but all living things are made out of chemistry so using that as a scare word is pretty ridiculous).

 

On the other hand, I must admit that our structures are often somewhat ugly, smell bad, and sound bad compared to being outdoors. So I do feel a bit of conflict there, when I'm surrounded by people who are scared of getting dirty outside and love to sit around and watch TV for hours. It helps a lot when the weather's nice enough to open some windows (but I do love screens to keep the bugs out) so I can get better smelling air and hear the birds (but I close the windows during a thunderstorm so that my stuff doesn't get wet). I'm not sure yet how exactly to get the good things out of man-made structures and the good things about outside all at once. I have plants in my window at work (since I'm lucky enough to have a real window - that helps), and have a small number of plants outside at home that are edible. I'd like a more convenient way to eat breakfast outside (after making it inside), but I'd still like something overhead like a porch roof or an umbrella, because nothing ruins your meal like bird poo. I guess if keep making an effort to include more "outside time" in my life it'll help me figure out exactly what it is that I want.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Moderator

"Chemicals," yeah, that's another good example. Scare tactics and fear mongering. 

 

The main idea is that people can become depressed and one way to fight that is to take on a whole different perspective of reality. Everything that exists is in some way an expression of divinity. To see yourself moving and interacting with a potentially endless realm of eternal energy that you're an interconnected part of can take away the short sided views that allow depression and anxiety to creep in. Seeing yourself as isolated and discrete can lead to unrest. Exploring Pantheist philosophy sort of got me to the point - eventually - where I became immune to that sort of thing.

 

What exactly is there to be depressed about really? 

 

The main thing is to maintain a more or less good feeling whether in or out of the cities. I guess it's an issue of balance where everything doesn't have to be only one way all the time. I like the idea of being flexible and good with whatever. Sort of like Bruce Lee's philosophy of "having no way as way, having no limitation as limitation." 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.