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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 28,381,438  

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Question of the Week: 54 - 8/13/2001

What is the connection between Spirit, Nature and Humankind?

How do Spirit (the Divine, The Gods, whatever your nomenclature), Nature and Humans interact on the energy planes? Is it truly 'as above, so below' in that lessons/events/inspirations that take place here on the earthly plane through and by Nature reflect certain laws, principles or events on the Spiritual energy planes? Do the Gods speak to us through the elements/events/occurrences of Nature or are we just 'seeing' a connection in order to try to make some sense of the world? Are the Nature/Earth energies necessary in order to work 'magic(k)' or do human beings in themselves possess what it takes to influence/work the spheres/magic(k)? Do you think that experiencing/learning/observing or working with Nature and Her energies should be a part- and how large a part- of any magickal training?

 Reponses:   There are 18 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 

Hi!; In Craft And Magical Development, A Healthy Understanding Of Nature, As... Aug 12th. at 10:38:42 pm EDT

Tarostar (Toronto, Ontario CA) Age: 59 - Email

Hi!; In Craft and magical development, a healthy understanding of Nature, as
She is in reality, is important.

So many grew up with the Walt Disney Nature Documentaries, where the bunny always got away from the hungry lynx, that a hearts and flowers attitude to Nature became endemic.

There are some "Pagans" who seem to value animal life over human to the degree of being unhealthy. That demand for such unconditional attention, one gets from a house pet, won't be found in a human relationship.

To understand Nature, in the context of Witchcraft, the reality Nature Documentaries are invaluable. Seeing a Leopard Seal gobble down a Penguin
and such, brings to mind the fact The Goddess is not your friend.

Being the Mother of Many, She can not be the friend of one.

She is just, as long as Her Laws are known and kept.

I'm just waiting for one of those venomous snakes to bite Steve Irwin on the nose.

Merry Meet! I Believe That Spirit, Nature, And Humankind, Are All Very... Aug 13th. at 10:34:27 am EDT

Heather (Milton, Florida US) Age: 19

Merry Meet! I believe that Spirit, Nature, and humankind, are all very much connected. The Gods do speak to us through nature, as well as through ourselves, because the Gods are in Nature, as well as in ourselves. When the birds sing, and the wind blows through the trees, and when the squirrels chatter at each other in the trees, that is the sound of the Goddess. The sound of a stream trickling over rocks is the sound of her laughter. The sun warming your skin is the Great Cernunnos gently embracing you. And I also think that Nature/Earth energies are a good part of working magic, but not completely necessary. All you really need to work magick is yourself, though the energy would be very low. And nature and her energies are very important in magickal training. Nature reveals many truthes that must be learned for stronger understanding and practice of magick.

We Are Responsible For Nature In The Sense That It Isn't "disrupted... Aug 13th. at 1:57:15 pm EDT

Ciarrai (Somewhere in Somerset County, New Jersey US) Age: 34 - Email

We are responsible for Nature in the sense that it isn't "disrupted." The Wheel of the Year dictates Nature. The position of the Moon dictates us. We then dictate Magick. God/dess dictates this for us.

I Personally Don't Believe In A Heirarchy Of "planes" Or "realms". The... Aug 13th. at 4:33:56 pm EDT

Nelli (Carmel Valley, California US) Age: 24 - Email

I personally don't believe in a heirarchy of "planes" or "realms". The infinite universe holds everything, including humans, and what we like to think of as magick. And the universe, being infinite, is impossible for humans to grasp, so we try to impose somme sort of order on it - all the patterns we see, all the time we record and the order we believe in - I believe that is all manufactured by the himan mind, an ancient survival mechanism. Not that everything is random or chaotic; I prefer the word stochastic, which means that whatever pattern we see is subject to change without notice. From our view, patterns certainly exist, but from the perspective of the entire universe, things just happen as they happen. It is human nature to look for patterns and connections, and to explain them somehow.
I think that learning about the true nature of Nature should be an integral part of any course of magickal study, and any spiritual path that claims a connection with the natural world. We have a great myth of the Mother Earth in our culture - that she is this fertile, compassionate, caring Momma who does the same stuff that humans do. We have personified nature. Unfortunately, careful and objective observation shows that it doesn't exactly work that way. Nature is nature. It is birth and death, and peace and violence, predator and prey, scavenger and parasite. And it is also stillness, and patience, and a great many things that are so foriegn to human experience that I can't even begin to describe them. We want to say "that is compassion" or "that is a desire for survival", but the fact of the matter is that we have no clue what animals besides humans do inside their heads. Who knows what goes through the head of an infanticidal lion or a female woodpecker who tosses her sister's eggs out of their shared nest? It is highly unlikely, though, that they are saying to themselves "I will now kill the infant of my mate (or cobreeder) because it will increase my genetic fitness." And as for so-called altruistic behaviors, there are many human motivations for compassion - and we have no way of knowing how many or what kinds of motivations may exist in other species.
I have spent the last month on an internship as a research assistant for a biologist at UC Berkely; I have been watching acorn woodpeckers go about their business. In addition to learning that a bird the size of a robin can produce the same amount of drool as a rottweiler when holding a grasshopper in its mouth for 15 minutes (who knew?), I caught some glimpses of those things that we can't grasp about nature. The activities, movements, vocalizations, etc. of wild creatures are vast and full of mystery. The most important lesson of observing nature is that there is a whole lot going on that we don't understand, and that we have no context for. The second important lesson of observing nature is that of patience. This lesson has two parts. The first is this - on the Discovery Channel, the hour of drama and excitement that they show you gives you no sense of the 8 to 10 hours of mind-numbing boredom and frustration that preceded the looked-for activity or animal. Most of nature is the very mundane and commonplace unfolding of many, many lives, from the minute to the gigantic. There is much resting, basking, grazing, roosting, hiding and nesting. It isn't always drama, and sending a student of biology or magick out into the field to census a group of birds who spend most of their time in leafy trees in cryptic positions is an excellent lesson in patience. The second lesson in patience is learned by observing animals in pain. We found a juvenile barn owl who had managed to get his wing broken. Being too sympathetic to let him fend for himself, put him in my car in a little box and drove him a half an hour to the vet, who then sent me on another 20 minute drive to the SPCA, where I was able to turn the owl over to people who fixed his wind and will release him soon. But through all that trauma - the pain of a broken wing, the terror of being handled by people, the confusion of being in a moving car (something animals have no context for), and surgery - he did not complain, did not fight overly much, and as best as I can tell, did not spend his time wishing that this had never happened, or that the whole ordeal was over. He was simply there, in the present moment. This was what life was about in that moment, and he lived it. Animals have an amazing ability to cope, and to be simply in the present moment.
Nature, studied carefully, should teach us how to live outside the box of our humanity, and should show us how large the world is. Students of nature should strive to observe an animal (or a plant, or a rock, or whatever) with the goal of becoming that being - not imposing human perceptions on that being's experience, but simply being that being. The most valuable lessons of nature are not those which echo human experience, but those which are the most alien to us.
OK, so I got a little talkative there - this is definitely a pet subject of mine! Anyway, I would suggest that everyone truly interested in learning about and from nature take a class on evolutionary theory, or at least read a book on it; and spend a whole lot of time (hours at a stretch) in nature, just watching and being.

We're All Just Neighbors Afterall. It Seems That Humans (of Course This... Aug 13th. at 10:07:44 pm EDT

Lynne-Renee (rural STL area, Missouri US) Age: 29 - Email

We're all just neighbors afterall. It seems that humans (of course this is from one human's point of view) do the most that affects the globe negatively. There are a gabillion insects doing a heck of a lot more than we are but it seems that's still more natural than the huge amount of water-controlling (yes beavers build dams but they don't control 80% of the world's rivers) that goes on.

The Gods speak to us through everything. That means all parts of Nature including other humans. Personally, that seems to interest me more since I have to work with these people. In the same way that I prefer to speak to Goddess (because I see myself readily portrayed), I can try to interrelate and learn with/from humans. If we "see" something in Nature that speaks to us, that's simply the collective unconscious. It works for archetypes in stories, it works for patterns in human behavior and allegorically through animals, plants...

Energy runs through everything and the nothing which is the majority of the physical world on the sub-atomic level, as I understand from high school-excuse my blunder if I'm not really up on physics. If we use energy from nature it is like when you tread water. You are mostly made of water, you are floating in water and as you direct it, you move the water around you as well as the levels of hydration which are going about their own business inside you without your attention.

Lastly, I believe we can learn from any source especially when it brings *out* knowledge held within.

Mm... I Believe That We, Humanity, Spirit, And Nature, Are All One... Aug 15th. at 12:16:39 am EDT

Raindancer (Christchurch, New Zealand) Age: 53 - Email

MM... I believe that we, humanity, spirit, and nature, are all one. What is above is below. In space, there is no above and below. Its post-paleo-pagan Judeo-Christian thought that separates humankind from the whole. What I believe is a large part of witchworking is control and channeling energies of various kinds, hopefully in a responsible manner, that is harmonious with the whole of nature.

Its been shown that genetically, all living things on this planet are cousins, descended from a common origin. All things are composed of atoms, electromagnetic energy. Many, if not all things seem to have some form of consciousness. We flatter ourselves that we are the highest pinnacle of that, although it may well be that what we call gods and goddesses, angels and guardians, are merely more highly evolved consciousnesses that (perhaps) are attempting to assist other forms of consciousness ( us, whales, primates, and ???) to make their way up the ladder. Who knows?

If we are to work with these energies in a responsible and harmonious manner, we must, of necessity, understand them, and work toward bringing our own energies into harmony with the energies to be found in nature. If we do, I believe, we will begin to make amends for the irresponsible, and reckless way that humankind has related to nature. A large part of the harm we've done as a species has been the result of ignorance. Should we spend time learning about natural forces? As witches, I can't see how we can do otherwise.

I Am Not An Expert With Energy 'feilds' Per Se, But I... Aug 15th. at 2:37:18 pm EDT

Lady Unicorn (Gillette, Wyoming US) Age: 20

I am not an expert with energy 'feilds' per se, but I have had much experience with energy.
I beleive working with energy, or atleast learning about it, should be part of every beginner's (and for some advanced) learning. Working off spells gathered from the net or elsewhere is fine... provided you have permission. But what happens when the day comes that you need a particular spell or charm or whatever, but can't find an already premade spell or enchantment or whatever? If a person doesn't have a feel for the energies around him/her, and for energies in general, they are likely to get stuck quite often as they move farther down the path.
For me, energy familiarity is the feel when a spell is cast, the tingling sensation that follows an odd coincidence, whatever. That feeling is very much linked to energies, and it is getting to know these energies that is the gateway to understanding the world around us. At least, it was the gateway for understanding for me.

Often times, it is the small things that we over look that are the most important.

Dare I say it? Like Q says from Star Trek: "the way the universe works is to simple for you to comprehend." That is because we must look at the simple things, and only then the complicated come undone to our understanding.

The Balance Is There A Connection Between Spirit, Nature And Humanity? In... Aug 15th. at 3:14:28 pm EDT

David Aquarius (Renton, Washington US) Age: 42 - Email

The Balance

Is there a connection between Spirit, Nature and Humanity? In the beginning, there was nothing. A Grand Nothing. Nothing Squared. Then that which we look to as our Creator allowed the universe to begin. This event gave birth to Energy, Matter, and Magic. It is the nature of humans to question all things, so different versions of this creation mythology abound. Mine is surely not the definitive one.

Since we and all we experience are part of that first grand event, there must be a connection between them. This connection is finely tuned to be specific to each of us. The connection for one may not work for another. Our souls are as individual as our fingerprints so too must this connection be as specific.

After this event, our history began to record all that occurred. This history was written in the molecules of the stones and gasses that led to the creation of this world. Along with them came the energies needed to fuse them together and the magic to give them life. Soon, humans came forth to stake a claim as one of the Chosen of EarthŐs children. Humanity thrived within this Balance, using it to feed, heal and broaden itself.

But in the last few thousand years, we have moved away from the Balance, forsaken its rules and become lost in our journey to become the Chosen. We have allowed ourselves to become attached to but one of the three arms of the scale. We find ourselves enamored by the material, the toys, things that can only offer temporary solace. By ignoring the other two parts of the Balance, we risk upsetting our nature and falling from our place in the favor of the Earth. We risk extinction.

There are those who have not lost the means to keep the Balance. I find that those who offer a positive, balanced Spirit to the rest of humanity are our hope against this dark future. Whether humanity survives or dies depends on the spirits of folks who believe.

As participants in the magical side of the Balance, it is up to us to ensure that what we do complies with the Laws of Nature and that our motives are without conflict or imbalance. Personal gain, greed, envy, or vengeance are human failings and serve only to move us away from harmony.

Each of our different faiths has rules and standards that keep us from straying from the purpose at hand. All of us have seen what happens when one of our brethren has chosen to pursue a path of chaos and personal glory. To walk the dark path can be very exciting and sensual, but in the long term can be costly, perhaps deadly. There will always be those who walk the dark roads, live within the shadows; so too must there also be those who seek out the light, the energy that creates rather than consumes. TodayŐs natural faiths are the hope and the light that we as a species need so badly.

I have seen great and wonderful things done by those who follow the natural paths. Druids, Wiccans of all traditions, shamen, Asatrź, and others who have dedicated their existence to the maintenance of the Balance. They have found many ways to enliven their inbred connection to the Creator in order to guide this world along and keep it from crumbling into obscurity.

Questions arise about methods and processes to access this connection, how do we tap into its wonder and use is magic. In all of my travels and visions, I can only answer this way:

ŇBe true to yourself and your clan, work to find that which speaks to your soul, not to the opinion of others. Look to all paths, respect the faiths of others and know that deep within you already lies the answer.Ó

We all possess the connection and the means to enrich it. It is in our nature to develop this magic by our questions and need to know. Stagnation occurs when we allow others to do the searching for us, and make the decisions on what we believe and how we do it.

Humanity has a great understanding of part of the Balance. Matter and energy have been researched and questioned for centuries, but we will always fail in our complete understanding of the universe because we have left out the most vital part.

Magic is a part of us, it is like oxygen, water, and light all rolled into one need. You cannot abandon it unless you first abandon yourself.

Walk with Light and Love,

I Think The Dimension Of Spirit, Or Of Consciousness, Permeates Nature In... Aug 15th. at 6:53:31 pm EDT

Tom Tadfor Little (Santa Fe, New Mexico US) Age: 39 - Email

I think the dimension of spirit, or of consciousness, permeates nature in all its forms. I think of the gods as both natural processes and spiritual forces--things that nature seems always to be trying to do.

Human beings are some of the most complex natural forms, and so we are also some of the most complex spiritual forms. We have enormous versatility compared with, say, rocks or even plants. That makes us probably the most potent instruments of the gods around. But nevertheless, the gods express themselves through other forms in nature as well, often with startling directness. And if you want to understand them and connect with them, you have to find what they do within you and also what they do in the natural world around you. Wisdom emerges from making those comparisons.

Ultimately, the greatest task of magic is to change ourselves and our relationships with the gods and with each other. But the complexity of the psyche is so great that that can be a daunting task, and we may have trouble seeing ourselves clearly. But zs we draw parallels between the spiritual dimension of our own existence and the spiritual dimension of the natural world, we come to recognize and appreciate the universals. It's helpful, for example, to work with physical fire in order to search out the fiery aspects of our own nature and learn the sort of handling it requires.

So for me, working with natural energies is a vitally important way of finding the gods and learning about them. I think my understanding of them would be hugely impoverished if I concentrated only on their human or psychological manifestations.

I don't much care for the language of "planes" of reality--it is implies too much disconnection between the aspects. Spirit isn't someplace else; it's here. Everything that goes on, goes on both physically and spiritually.

What Is The Connection Between The Reflection And The Reflected? My Grandfather... Aug 16th. at 12:44:50 am EDT

self (Saint Peter's burg, Florida US) Age: 34 - Email

What is the connection between the reflection and the reflected?

My grandfather used to say: Poop in one hand and wish in the other. See which one gets filled quickest.
The obvious answer really.....depends....

At Best, Humans, Gods, Nature, And Elemental Forces Work In Balance, Understanding... Aug 16th. at 1:29:04 pm EDT

Emerald (Fort Lauderdale, Florida US) Age: 20

At best, humans, gods, nature, and elemental forces work in balance, understanding and coexisting with one another. The universe has a consciousness, a soul, and a body, functioning as one eternal entity beyond our understanding. When we listen to the wisdom of the universe, when we allow ourselves to become more closely connected with its spirit, and when we understand and learn from the lessons of the physical world, we are achieving the balance of a healthy organism, and contributing to the overall health of the planetary and cosmic organisms to which we all belong. Whatever our outwards circumstances, we have the divine inner spark to overcome our own suffering and weaknesses. Even at the end of the world there will still be devout spiritualists accepting the strength that all living beings can draw upon in times of crisis. The Gods are as real as we are, but they are quite different from we are, and if we try to understand them through the laws and habits of the physical realm we will fail to understand them entirely. All sentient beings are a part of the highest creative force which shapes reality. As for the question of whether human beings must work with the power of nature to cause magick, or whether the power is within ourselves, the question is obviously moot, because any power within ourselves COMES FROM NATURE, like the food we eat, air we breathe, and water we drink. Besides, obviously the answer is that we have power within ourselves AND that we can manipulate energies resident in nature. Of course experiencing/learning/observing and working with Nature and Her energies MUST be a large part, the primary part, of any magickal training, anything else doesn't make any sense, especially for such a nature-oriented belief system as paganism.

In Some Ways I Really Hate This Word Because It's Taken On... Aug 16th. at 2:02:41 pm EDT

Cat (Asheville, North Carolina US) Age: 34

In some ways I really hate this word because it's taken on such frou-frou connotations, but surely the connection between nature and spirit and humanity is energy. I mean the literal thing--well, it's not a thing--stuff--well, it's not material--you can see why this is a difficult topic. But I mean what the sun puts out, and what we get from the oxidation of a chocolate bar or a carrot, and what draws the creek downwards. Energy is the currency of the world, to use a probably inappropriate economic metaphor: it's the medium by which exchange takes place, and it's what IS exchanged. It's what you have to have, and what you can't keep (a concept which might make some sense applied to money, come to think of it.)

However, the problems with this formulation are just about legion, unfortunately. One problem is that some pagans use the term "energy" to mean something even less tangible than the wave/particle which is the literal (here we go again) thing: our use of language is often sloppy, and when we talk about "scattered energy" or "the energy is bad in here", we foster confusion about whether we really mean physical energy or something quite different. A second, larger problem is that I don't really know what energy is: maybe nobody does, though I prefer to believe physicists have a clearer idea. We feel its manifestations in heat, light, motion, and so on, but I can just barely wrap my mind around the concept of energy itself. A wave in material substance? A moving particle THROUGH the material? A pattern by which material moves? A force which makes motion possible? A stream of something invisible which runs through one material thing to the next? According to my limited understanding, it's something of all of the above, but its complexity makes it one of the most mystical concepts I know of. I know humans have it, and everything in the natural world, and I infer that spirit probably has it too--a real common denominator--but I'm not really equipped to take it further than that. You can see, though, why ancient peoples worshipped the sun above all: it's the source of all the energy we'll ever know. Without it there'd be nothing here.

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