Democratic Forest Trusts (PDF)in Watson, Alan; Dean, Liese; Sproull, Janet, comps. 2006. Science and stewardship to protect and sustain wilderness values: Eighth World Wilderness Congress Symposium; 2005 September 30-October 6; Anchorage, AK.Democratic trusts with leadership elected by citizen-members promise to solve many of the problems afflicting both traditional government and corporate ownership of forestlands.Â This article explores these issues in some depth.Complexity and the Dream of Human Control of Eco-Systems (PDF)in Watson, Alan; Dean, Liese; Sproull, Janet, comps. 2006. Science and stewardship to protect and sustain wilderness values: Eighth World Wilderness Congress Symposium; 2005 September 30-October 6; Anchorage, AK.The title captures it.Â I then explore the kinds of institutions compatible with both nature and the modern world that are implied from this analysis.Rethinking the Obvious: Modernity and Living Respectfully With Nature (PDF)The Trumpeter: Journal of Ecosophy, Winter, 1997.Modernity is usually considered a wrong turn in terms of respect for and sustaining the environment.Â I argue the reality is more complex, for modernity has freed us from personal dependence on agriculture, ended the economic value of children, radically reduced the likelihood of large scale wat, and shifted much production to intellectual rather than material capital.Â This partially decouples society from nature, which gives us important opportunities as well as problems.Towards an Ecocentric Political Economy (PDF)The Trumpeter, Fall, 1996.This paper begins my effort at showing how liberal modernity can be harmonized with an ecocentric perspective on our relationship with the natural world.Â It is a corrective to much “free market environmental” literature that sacrifices Nature to money as well as to anti-liberal attacks by well-meaning but economically naÃ¯ve environmentalists.Unexpected Harmonies: Self-Organization in Liberal Modernity and Ecology (PDF)The Trumpeter, Journal of Ecosophy, 10:1, Winter 1993This is my initial paper exploring how what I term ‘evolutionary liberal’ thought can be an important means by which society and nature can be brought into greater harmony.Â The other Trumpeter papers build on it.Deep Ecology and Liberalism: The Greener Implications of Evolutionary Liberalism (PDF)Review of Politics, Fall, 1996.Liberal thought and deep ecology are usually regarded as mutually exclusive. But the “evolutionary” tradition offers a way to integrate the two through commonalties in the work of David Hume, Michael Polanyi, Arne Naess, and Aldo Leopold, providing a stronger foundation for liberalism while strengthening the case for an ecocentric ethic.(Related subjects: Ecology)Saving Western Towns: A Jeffersonian Green Proposal (PDF)in Writers on the Range, Karl Hess and John Baden, eds., University Press of Colorado, 1998.Developmental pressures in the rural and small town West involve three groups: long term residents, new arrivals, and environmentalists. Today their interests often conflict. This conflict is in part the outcome of institutions which prevent harmonizing competing interests. The concept of developmental trusts, both for rural regions and for small communities offers a means whereby these interests can be harmonized for the benefit of all concerned.(Related subjects: Politics)Social Ecology, Deep Ecology, and Liberalism (PDF)Critical Review, 6: 2-3, 1992.Murray Bookchin is considered a leading radical environmental theorist. However, his analysis is incapable of leading humankind towards a more respectful and sustainable relationship with the natural world. Criticisms of Bookchin from both the deep ecology and evolutionary liberal perspective complement one another, pointing the way towards a better understanding of how modernity relates to the environment.The paper as a whole offers an early discussion of issues that are more clearly addressed in later papers, particularly Deep Ecology and Liberalism (1996) and the three Trumpeter articles in 1997, 1996, and 1993. However, there are other ideas in the article which have not been developed more thoroughly elsewhere.
before Thanksgiving the United Religions Initiative’s People of the Earth gathering took place in San
Francisco’s Presidio. This was the
third in a series of meetings seeking to build mutual awareness and respect
among the practitioners of many earth oriented religions, from the most traditional
indigenous peoples to the most technologically savvy NeoPagans. I would have
written about it earlier, but Thanksgiving travels and a general disinclination
to blog after returning from Utah have gotten in my way. But People of the Earth is an important
event in the growth of a wider appreciation for Pagan spiritual traditions, and
I want to describe what happened there in hopes that other Pagan groups in
other parts of our country will attempt similar events.
meeting had representatives from a great many traditions. Representatives of Romuva (a Baltic
Pagan tradition), Hinduism, Umbanda, Daoism, Shinto, Animism, as well as
various NeoPagan and Western esoteric traditions all participated. In addition, Alejandrino Quispe Mejia, a leader of traditional indigenous
people in Peru, was the guest speaker, talking about indigenous traditions in
Despite our diversity, our group was top-heavy with NeoPagans, I think because other
traditions tend to be in either largely immigrant communities or among our own
indigenous populations, both of who are not strongly oriented towards
outreach. The first is focused on
serving their own communities, the second on that and also wary of getting too
involved with a larger society that has treated them so abominably.
The first part
of the meeting featured opening blessings in many of these traditions. It began with a Romuva ritual of
passing a sacred belt around a group to create sacred space. The belt had been woven with sacred
symbols, each added at an appropriate time throughout the year. After the belt was passed around a
circle the space was consecrated.
representative of the Sahajayana Siddha Hindu tradition made a “Kolam” as an offering to the creatures of the earth. In making a Kolam rice flour was sprinkled on the ground in
front of the doorway. The flour formed symmetrical designs honoring harmony,
and afterwards people walked through them in entering and leaving. The rice provided food for other
creatures. While certain patterns were traditional in India, there was no hard
and fast rule, and others in our group made Kolams using symbolism from their
outside blessing was from Brazil’s Umbanda tradition. Exu, the guardian of doorways and
facilitator of connecting with the Orixas (deities) was honored with song, rum,
and M&Ms. I am fascinated with
how often many spirits like alcohol and sweets and in different contexts have
had contact with Exu myself.
We then entered
the interfaith chapel and continued the blessing ceremonies. Several involved
different NeoPagan traditions honoring the four elements and directions. While details varied, they were all
quite similar to one another. In
addition a Lesser Pentagram
Banishing ritual was performed, rooted in Ceremonial Magic. Some other NeoPagans used chants,
including a Christian Witch chant.
opening blessings were from some of Asia’s earth based traditions. A Daoist showed us all how to do QiQong movements which were focused on the body’s integration with the world. Finally a Shinto blessing honored the four directions plus a number of others. Both of these are difficult to
impossible for me to describe, but were wonderful. QiQong is powerful stuff, it was instrumental in my rapid recovery from a stroke in 2008.
By the time all
the opening blessings were concluded it was lunch time, and we gathered at
tables having been asked to eat with people and traditions we knew little
about. I ate with Prudence Priest,
the representative from Romuva. Our conversation went from how it survived both
Christian and Communist persecution (Lithuania remained Pagan until the 14th
century, so less was lost, and the Communists suppressed the Christians, which
meant that they were less able to eliminate what remained after the fall of
Communist power.) They have their
own equivalent to our Samhain, Velines, which has been as long as two weeks,
and now focuses on Nov. 2. The
dead are invited to eat, and when they are the table cloth is turned upside
down before the settings are made. Today many who practice largely do so for
cultural reasons, but for some it remains a strong Pagan tradition. Wild Hunt
has some good articles on Romuva. The Gods willing I will eventually make it to Lithuania myself for I have a very soft spot for the Lithuanians I know, and I like what I’ve learned about Romuva.
After lunch we
gathered to hear Aejandrino’s talk, preceeded by Don Frew’s account of how
People of the Earth originated. He
and other NeoPagans had encountered Alejandrino and other indigenous South
American Pagans while attending the Parliament of World Religions held in Rio
de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2002. They
had gotten along well, and when he left, Alejandrino had told Frew “I will go
home and tell my children that the Wicca are people just like us.”
American NeoPagans made at that Parliament and subsequent ones led to forming
People of the Earth for as we met one another we discovered that while our
traditions were different in many respects, at the most crucial we all felt at
home in one another’s ceremonies.
talk was fascinating to me primarily because he made it clear that the Andean
Quecha speaking community did not distinguish between spirits and physical
nature. The earth is a living
being, and as such, so are mountains, rivers, and the rest of the world. They are presences in themselves, not
symbols for disembodied entities.
I think this is
a reference to the Presence some of us feel when in particularly powerful parts
of the natural world, and for the Quecha this presence seems more subtly
experienced and interacted with.
traditional ideal is to live in harmony with all this life, and to give back in
offerings, particularly in August, when “Nature is hungry and opens its gates
in sacred places.” Giving offerings
enables life to continue, with good ultimately over coming evil. As he spoke it was obvious that many
NeoPagans, including this one, would feel quite at home in their cosmology.
freedom now theoretically exists in Peru but the schools teach only
Catholicism. They often have to do
their rituals at night in order to avoid being invaded by Christians,
apparently especially evangelicals.
(It seems some things never change.)
and answers, we had a final session where Don brought up the future of People
of the Earth. All present wanted
to meet more than annually, but for this to happen more Pagans would need to
get involved in the planning of these sessions. It seemed as if there was interest enough that this would
happen. Finally we discussed how
to encourage Pagans in other parts of the country to create similar gatherings,
and it is to this end that I hope some reading of our sessions will be inspired
to organize one of their own.