Recently, at the Summerland Spirit gathering, I spent a day in walking meditation, fasting, naked, covered with ash. I'd suspected beforehand that I might be bored. Nothing could have been further from the truth. That day was the busiest I've spent in a long time. They say that the naked ascetic sitting beneath the tree has fought and won more battles than the bravest warrior.
So there I was, sitting under a white oak in the mid-afternoon heat, reeling with the concept: Goddess Earth.
Paganism is sometimes labeled an "earth religion" and "nature-based religion" in the mainstream media. That label is ... inaccurate. Not incorrect, but too broad a generalization. For many Pagans, nature is vitally important, even the focus of their devotions. Other Pagans have a general concern for the environment, no greater or lesser than that of anyone else who watches the news and the weather. And still other Pagans have no interest in the natural world at all.
I personally straddle the amorphous line between the first and second. As an Hellenistai, I see the world as infused with animating spirits. Nymphai inhabit trees, rivers, mountains and meadows. Great Gods such as Artemis and Dionysus and Hekate and Persephone walk about in the world. Indeed, the Earth herself is a Goddess, Gaea.
Happy Earth Day, all! I have always had a special place in my heart for this celebration. For one thing, it shares the same birth year as me, 1970. For another, the idea originated with a Wisconsin U.S. Senator, Gaylord Nelson. (This courtesy of the Earth Day Network™, http://www.earthday.org/earth-day-history-movement) Finally, if you love nature– what better way to revere our Mother Earth than with a hike and a picnic?
As to locations, look into your city, county, or state parks and see who has the best trails. If you are lucky enough to live in a rural or woodsy area and own your abode, blaze a trail of your own. When you return for some hearty fare, stoke a fire pit in the backyard if it has cooled off.
There is a conversation topic getting a much-needed dust-off in recent days thanks to both the inaugural speech by US President Obama and a recent blog post by Sierra Club Executive Director, Michael Brune; environmental activism. I've written about how I feel an undeniable stewardship of the planet because of my religious views, which include not only the environment as being sacred, but that as a matter of practicality and selfishness, this is the only environment we have and we need to do everything we can to keep it healthy enough to sustain us, which invariably means approaching our life choices as part of the system and not separate and superior to it.