Bodhi Tree Presents: Starhawk—Nature as Religion

In this series we take a deep dive into the history of wellness literature. This month: Finding religion in the natural world.

The Bodhi Tree metaphysical bookstore for spiritual seekers was founded in 1970 in L.A., and many considered it to be the birthplace of the modern conscious lifestyle movement. Some of the world’s best-known authors, musicians, artists, visionaries, and wisdom teachers browsed and taught at the iconic store. Bodhi Tree is expanding with an online presence in early 2016. 

Check out this Harvard Divinity School talk with Starhawk here

There is no shortage of stories, films, and books these days that bring us visions of a broken, dystopian future. It may be no wonder, then, that society is congruently experiencing a resurgence of Earth-based spirituality. In 2007, for example, the Department of Veterans Affairs settled a lawsuit by adding the Wiccan pentacle to the list of symbols it would engrave on tombstones. Additionally, sacred sites like Stonehenge are seeing more people than ever before join in ceremony on Earth-based high holy days like the solstice and equinox. In 2013, more than 20,000 people attended the summer solstice celebration at Stonehenge.

Planet-based belief systems offer a refreshing alternative of hope for a new world. The mechanized future is out. A kinder, more verdant future is in.

One of these belief systems is brand new, started by the renowned author and spiritual teacher Starhawk. Her modern pagan or Goddess religion—known as Reclaiming—has elements of Wicca and activism. The religion’s principles and precepts are loosely outlined in Starhawk’s many books. The 5th Sacred Thing is among them, a visionary utopian novel meant to help readers picture a hopeful alternative future for humanity and the planet. The newest edition in the series, City of Refuge, was just recently released.

“I know we can envision and create a hopeful and harmonious future on this planet,” says Starhawk. “We can’t first create something without envisioning it.”

Connecting to the Earth and Ourselves

Reclaiming isn’t just about connecting to your inner truth and the truth of those around you. It’s about connecting to our planet as well.

Starhawk has become a leading permaculture teacher in recent years, a deep-ecology method of farming that works in harmony with nature and organic systems. “I’ve discovered that we can let nature be our teacher and our guide to create systems that actually regenerate,” she says. “For a lot of young people, it’s painful to contemplate what’s happening to the planet. To them I just say: Take a permaculture course. Spend two weeks immersing yourself in the solution and you will feel so much better.”

At the heart of spirituality and regenerative practice is the importance of collective action. If you’re only in it for yourself—if you don’t have responsibility to anyone else—isolation and depression can set in. It’s important to understand this, because our planet will only recover on an ecosystem-based model. We must work together to change our world.

In addition to getting in touch with the Earth and working together with like-minded souls, Starhawk says that it’s also crucial to stay aligned to what is life-affirming. Ask yourself:

What is sacred to me?
What do I most deeply care about?
What do I draw energy from and what renews me?
What do I care enough about that I might take a stand or make a sacrifice for it?

Knowing your personal answers to these questions is crucial on the journey toward hope for the future. Starhawk says when you start to feel yourself losing that hope, spend some time outdoors; foster a connection with the natural world. Sit in a park, walk on the beach, look at the sky, see the birds, and open your eyes to the messages of nature. Nature is always communicating—listen. Respond.

Involve yourself in the conversation and help create the world you most want to live in.

author-kaiaKaia Van Zandt is the author of Written in the Ashes, an esoteric novel about who burned the Great Library of Alexandria, Egypt. She currently leads yoga retreats in Europe, and wild dolphin trips in the Bahamas. Her beloved writing mentor is bestselling novelist/humorist, Tom Robbins.