Naturalistic Animism: Seeing the Trees for the Ents

It takes an artist’s eyes—or a lover’s—to really see. It takes a willingness to get our hands dirty, to get up close and personal with messy nature, and to use all of our senses. But most of all, it requires a willingness to be open to receiving, as well as perceiving—an openness to being “touched back” when we touch nature.

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Spirituality Without Politics Is Lame

A politics without spirituality is blind, but a spirituality without politics is lame.  And that is why I worry about an apolitical spirituality.  I worry that individual spiritual practice in isolation from engagement with the world will never lead to real personal development and thus never lead to positive social change. And I worry about an apolitical spirituality which tells us that we need to accept the world as it is because we are powerless to change it.  Finally, sitting back and practicing equanimity and a contemplative attitude is a privilege that many people do not have.  It is not a option for many people of color.  It is not a option for many gay, lesbian, queer or transgendered people have.  It is not an option for many poor people or for many women.

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Why I’m Boycotting Lughnasadh Again

If I went to a public Pagan ritual this weekend, most likely someone would give a little homily about the meaning of the day.  They would begin by explaining the meaning of the names “Lughnasadh” or “Lammas”, either etymologically or historically, and then explain how Lughnasadh is about sacrifice or some other harvest analogy.  But the whole process is completely backwards.  Instead of attuning ourselves to the actual cycles of nature, we end up trying to attune ourselves to an artificial cycle derived from a hodgepodge of Celtic lore and rural British customs.  Rather than the seasons turning the Wheel of the Year, we are letting the Wheel turn the seasons.  As a result, every explanation of a Pagan holiday has to begin with a disclaimer about why the holiday doesn’t match up with what our senses are actually telling us.

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10 Books that Shaped My Spiritual Journey (Paganism and Beyond)

I love books.  I probably feel more at home bookstores and libraries than I do in my own house.  Books have had a profound influence on my spiritual evolution.  In fact, I can mark certain spiritual transitions by the books I was reading.

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Five Mistakes We Make When Criticizing Other Religions

Religion is far more than a set of propositions to which we intellectually assent or dissent. Religion is inextricably intertwined with our social networks and our cultural context. And religious behavior, including religious speech, is far more than an expression of belief; it is a performance which binds us to our religious communities. When secularists, atheists, and religious naturalists attack a religion on the basis of the demonstrable falsity of the beliefs of its adherents, we reveal our own ignorance of the complexity of this thing we call religion.

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An Earthseed Solstice: Festival of the Teacher

The summer solstice coincides with the birthday of Octavia Butler, June 22.  So we celebrate Butler’s life and work, as well as the beginning of summer.  Through the ritual, we will seek to deepen our understanding of the words of the Book of the Living: “God is Teacher” and “Partnership is learning and teaching”.  The ritual will involve song, like Peter Mayer’s “God is a River”, and call-and-response. The center of the ritual will be a “meditative teaching” and the construction of an altar or “focus” to honor teachers who have inspired us.

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