Pagan Bookshelf: Communing with Nature

One of the reasons many people turn to modern Pagan religions is to seek a way to incorporate respect for Nature into their spirituality.  Some religions, such as Wicca, have a decidedly Earth-revering emphasis.  How can we enhance our understanding of Nature and build a deep connection with the flora, fauna, and mineral realms?  There are quite a few books available that can help us seek a closer communion with Nature.  Here are just a few that can help.

“Earth Prayers From Around the World: 365 Prayers, Poems, and Invocations for Honoring the Earth” edited by Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon and “Earth Poems: Poems from Around the World to Honor the Earth” edited by Ivo Mosely, both published by HarperCollins, provide a wealth of inspirational writing drawn from a wide variety of spiritual paths.  My own coven uses these two books for ritual material, particularly Sabbat prayers and incantations.  The poems are great for quiet meditation too.

“The Earth Speaks” by Steve Van Matre and Bill Weiler is similar, but presents more prose while the first two books mentioned focus on poetry.  This book is more suited for meditation, discussion, and activity ideas rather than material that lends itself for use in ritual.

Books written for parents and teachers are great for everyone regardless of age for suggestions of things to do to get you learning and involved in Nature.  Look for books such as the classic “Sharing Nature with Children” and “Sharing Nature with Children II” by Joseph Cornell, “The Learning Works Earth Book for Kids” by Linda Schwartz, “Teaching Kids to Love the Earth” by Marina Lachecki Herman and associates, or “Nature With Children of All Ages” by Edith A. Sisson.

Books on gardening and activities such as birdwatching can really help immerse participants in the cycles of Nature in their local area.  My favourite is Marcus Schneck’s “Your Backyard Wildlife Year.”  It gives a month-by-month collection of activities and information relevant to people who live in the northern part of the United States and the southern parts of Canada.  You’ll often find similar books in bookstores shelved in the “local interest” section.

Similar books, which often read more as journals recording the natural cycles in a particular area rather than an activity book, include “Natural Prayers” by Chet Raymo, and “Great Lakes Nature: An Outdoor Year” by Mary Blocksma.

Years ago I lived in Arizona and found a couple of great books for those living in the American southwest.  Look for Ben Guterson’s “Seasonal Guide to The Natural Year,” and Doris Evans’ “Let’s Explore the Desert Family Go Guide!”  I wish I could find similar books for other parts of the continent.

Canada’s popular scientist and journalist David Suzuki has produced some amazing books on Nature and environmental issues.  His book “The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature” is widely available and worth a read.  The companion coffee-table photo book, produced by Suzuki with Amanda McConnell, is also breathtaking – it’s called “The Sacred Balance” as well.  The subtitle of the coffee-table photo book is appropriately “A Visual Celebration of Our Place in Nature.”

First Nations (Native American) cultures have a lot of mythology and philosophy that focuses on the environment and Nature too.  “Keepers of the Earth: Native Stories and Environmental Activities for Children” and its sequels, “Keepers of the Night,” “Keepers of the Animals,” and “Keepers of Life” are all by Michael J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchac and all worth reading.  And if you can find a copy, “The Gospel of the Red Man” written by Ernest Thompson Seton and first published back around the 1930s presents some of the foundational philosophies that were behind the Woodcraft movement and probably also Seton’s attempt at Pagan religion, known as the Sun or Red Lodge.  Some speculate that Seton’s Pagan philosophy might have had an influence on Gerald Gardner in his development of Wicca.

Other more spiritually inclined books with a heavy Nature emphasis include “Earthwalks for Body and Spirit” by James Endredy, “Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche” by Bill Plotkin, “Gaia Eros: Reconnecting to the Magic and Spirit of Nature” by Jesse Wolf Hardin, and “The Earth Path: Grounding Your Spirit in the Rhythms of Nature” by Starhawk.

Those following a path based on witchcraft will find Ann Moura’s “Green Witchcraft” books highly recommended.  Other valuable books on this path are Marian Green’s “Natural Witchcraft” and “Wild Witchcraft,” Doreen Valiente’s “Natural Magic,” and “Witchcraft Medicine” by Claudia Müller-Ebeling and associates, along with many other books coming out all the time on the topic.

And after doing some reading be sure to do the very best thing to connect with Nature – get out there and spend some time in the middle of it all!

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