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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Nov. 17, 2002   This Page Viewed: 12,699,870  

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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 

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 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.

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.

I Think Learning To Observe The Workings Of Nature Should Be A... Aug 13th. at 9:43:46 am EDT

Minerva Waters (Downers Grove, Illinois US) Age: 26 - Email

I think learning to observe the workings of nature should be a vital part of magickal training. Too many Pagans seem to come into it visualizing the happy peaceful Earth Mother with every animal at her feet. They forget that Nature is 'red in tooth and claw' and doing the warm fuzzy hug-the-animal routine on the wrong critter will get them bitten (at best). They need to understand the balance of nature -- the predator/prey/scavenger relationship that is vital to every eco-system, including human cities. Humans are still animals at heart, so by studying nature we can learn more about ourselves. It is necessary to have that knowledge before we can begin to magickally alter our surroundings. Attempting to change things before knowing how they work only results in a large mess that cannot always be cleaned up.

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.

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