Each day of the month of April leading up to Earth Day (April 22), I will be offering a suggestion for how we can really honor the Earth this year. This list will go beyond the usual suggestions to change your light bulbs and take shorter showers. Instead, the focus is on collective action working toward radical social change.
Ecologist Dolores LaChapelle says that ritual is essential to creating intimate, conscious relationship with the places where we dwell. It is no coincidence that native societies tend both to be ecologically sustainable and to have a rich ceremonial life.
“We have tried to relate to the world around us through only the left side of our brain, and we are clearly failing. We need to rediscover the wisdom of these other cultures who know that their relationship to the land and to the natural world required the whole of their being.”
LaChapelle explains that rituals
“connect the conscious with the unconscious, the right and left hemispheres of the brain, the cortex with the older three brains … as well as connecting the human with the non-human — the earth, the sky, the animals and plants.”
But not all rituals succeed in doing this. One thing you can do to honor the Earth this Earth Day is to ground your religious rituals and craft rituals that really connect you to the more-than- human world.
Here are some questions we can ask: Do our religious rituals help us experience the natural world or do they actually cut us off from it? Are our rituals too inwardly-focused? Is our connection to the “nature” just in our heads or are we experiencing it on our bodies? Are our rituals just another attempt to achieve mastery over the natural world? Are we consumeristic even in our rituals? Do we only look at nature for what it can give us, like harvest foods and hidden spiritual meanings? What do we give back to nature?