Many Christian contemporaries recognize the growing need to honor the Earth, and some of them have even included nature in their modern practices of worship. For some non-Christian spiritualists, however, the Earth and nature play a bigger role.
“If you take a copy of the Christian Bible and put it out in the wind and rain, soon the paper on which the words are printed will disintegrate and the words will be gone,” said herbalist Carol McGrath. “Our bible is the wind and the rain.”
For those whose primary spiritual experience is with nature, the term “pagan” is commonly used. The original, Middle English use of the word “pagan” referred simply to people who lived in the country. While it has developed various connotations over the centuries, a number of them still remain negative.
Therefore, the term “neo-pagan” has been coined to denote modern practices of paganism which believe that every living thing, as well as rivers, rocks, trees, land and other forces and cycles of nature has a spirit. Many environmentally conscious Christians today share the same belief.
There are a number of religions with pagan or earth-worshipping elements, including Buddhism, Shintoism, Native American religions, Hinduism, Taoism, Wicca, Druidism, Jainism and Shamanism.
Some of these religions teach or practice non-violence and a deep respect for all living things. Others revere the earth as part of Goddess-worship. This stems from an ancient awareness that humanity depended on the earth for all things necessary to sustain life, namely food, water and shelter.
It is also recognized that human life was created inside the female body. The term “Mother Earth” likely originated from this concept. As a result, there exists a belief in feminine divinity that has been infused into many modern forms of worship.
Fertility is another important inclusion in discussions of Earth worship. Many religions recognize the need for a balance between the masculine and feminine, or the presence of both energies, in the creation of life.
The Chinese symbol of Yin and Yang represents the complementary opposites of male and female. Both elements interconnect to create a greater whole. Ultimately, the inclusion of Goddess-worship and fertility make paganism altogether more sensual in nature than other, more commonly practiced religions today.
Converting to paganism is an option for anyone. However, those who are comfortable with their faith can expand their spiritual experience by incorporating nature into worship. In chapter six of the book of Matthew, Christ taught: “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Acknowledging the beauty of the earth and the power of creation is compatible with almost every religion.
Ideas for creating spiritual experiences with nature:
Be grateful to the Earth for sustaining your life and giving you food.
Look at the stars and moon in the night sky.
Pick up litter to honor the Earth.
Watch the sun rise.
Plant something and help it to grow.
Meditate or pray in a beautiful outdoor location.
Notice if the plants or animals around you need food or water.
Pay attention to the phases of the moon.
Engage in physical activities outdoors at least once daily.
Collect or create artwork of nature.
Enjoy the change of seasons.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Take nature walks where you spend time noticing the details in the
world around you; the lives of insects, animals, plants and birds
can inspire awe and fascination.