Humankind and Planet Earth are facing the most spiritually consequential time in over 10,000 years. We have put the Earth and all life at the brink of widespread destruction. We must make big changes in our approach to the physical world. This is a crisis of Earth and spirituality.
We also need to make changes in our spiritual approach to the world. For it is the spiritual approach that has laid the foundation for the destruction we are wreaking upon the Earth.
Earth and spirituality and the material problem
Scientists say we are now in the sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history. Human development is causing this extinction by destroying key parts of our ecosystem. Today, extinction rates are 10 to 100 times faster than what normally would be the case. We consume Earth’s resources one and a half to two times faster than She can replenish them—with the level being as high as five times faster with the way we consume things in the United States. Industrial farming is depleting topsoil around the world as pesticides kill far more than their intended targets. Our consumption of fossil fuels is driving climate change which is occurring faster than organisms and even human beings can adapt to. The Earth’s very ability to sustain human life is in question. And humans now possess enough nuclear weapons to destroy civilization and kill most of humanity.
We are running out of resources. Within a few decades, we will run out of usable fossil fuels that enable our economy, and we will not be able to maintain our current lifestyles even with full-scale solar and wind power development. Like it or not, humankind will have no choice but to live a much simpler and less consumptive lifestyle. But with climate change and mass extinctions happening, we have to start changing our lifestyle now, step by step.
The spiritual problem and exploration of Paganism
This sixth mass extinction is as much a spiritual problems within humankind as it is a material problem. Modern religions have tended to separate Earth and spirituality. While Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, the Baha’i Faith, Hinduism, and other world religions have contributed to human wisdom, we have forgotten about the wisdom of harmonizing with the Earth. Many ancient peoples and even indigenous people in the modern age have understood the need to give back to the Earth as we take. They’ve known better than the rest of us that we need to ask permission of the Earth before taking from her.
Many people have turned away from traditional religions. Some of these people have explored Pagan practices. Paganism is essentially an umbrella term describing many Indo-European spiritual practices that existed before Christianity and Islam took over. These spiritual practices have enjoyed a revival in the 20th and 21st centuries. Pagan religions are often touted as being Earth-centered religions. While this is, in essence, true, being a Pagan does not automatically make someone spiritually attuned to the Earth. History is full of examples in which people identifying as Christians have done some extremely un-Christ-like things.
This blog seeks to explore the various ways that Earth and spirituality can intersect within a Pagan practice. It’s a challenge to myself and to others to walk our talk as we seek to tread more lightly upon the Earth.